Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why a work program on agriculture?

Over the last few days there has been considerable to the idea of mandating a work program on agriculture. This is one of a long list of topics under negotiation under the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action. Relative to the other tricky issues being negotiated under the AHWG-LCA, agriculture is a relatively minor topic.

An array of international agricultural organizations, international "elders" and countries are calling for the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) to be mandated to include a work program on agriculture. Proponents hope that having a work program will contribute to the following objectives:
a) recognize the vulnerability of agriculture and food security to climate change and thus the need to consider new types of risk management tools (eg funds that could be linked to weather-indexed insurance);
b) justify the allocation of substantial funds from the Green Climate Fund for Climate Smart Agriculture in developing countries that can increase productivity, improve resilience, reduce GHG emissions and enhance soil carbon;
c) assist developing countries in their plans to incorporate agriculture in their Nationally-Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs); and
d) develop a mechanism for mitigation finance being used to finance "climate smart agriculture".

Countries indicating strong support for the agriculture work program is the Umbrella Group of Countries (including Australia, the US, New Zealand, Norway) and South Africa. Articulate personalities speakng on behalf of the work program include Andrew Steer (World Bank), Tina Joemat-Pettersson (South African Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries), Kofi Annan (Former UN Secretary General), Meles Zenawi (Prime Minister of Ethiopia), Jacob Zuma (President of South Africa) and Mary Robinson (Former President of Ireland). There are dissenting voices, however. I've been told that the Tanzania negotiator opposes the work program in the negotiations, yet the country's minister of agriculture publically supports the idea.

Some references:
ENB on the Side - Durban Climate Change Conference - November 2011 - Issue #9

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