18 December 2015 – This month, world leaders gathered in Paris to agree a new deal on climate change. CABI delegates attended this historic COP21 Climate Conference, raising awareness about agriculture and the environment, and the challenges facing the world’s rural communities and smallholder farmers. We share some of the highlights of CABI’s participation in the event.
On 8 December, CABI CEO, Dr Trevor Nicholls, addressed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and called for urgent support to help farmers adapt to global warming.
In many parts of the developing world, particularly Africa and South Asia, agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for the majority of people. Yet climate change is making it harder to be a farmer and more difficult for farmers to feed the world’s growing population.
Reflecting growing concern amongst CABI’s member countries and the international community, Dr Nicholls highlighted three implications of climate change that pose serious threats to agriculture and biodiversity worldwide:
- Existing crop pests and diseases like coffee rust, which we know how to control, are becoming more aggressive as a result of temperature and humidity changes.
- Known weeds, insects, microbes and invasive species spreading to new areas, countries and regions as changing conditions create new habitats for them, causing problems for farmers and land managers unfamiliar with these pests. These introduced pests will cause far more damage than they do in their present indigenous range.
- New pests or diseases, such as Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease, arise and thrive as the climate changes.
Dr Nicholls commented: “We need to move now to help farmers adapt. Some farmers are innovating and we can learn from them. We can help many others, often with very simple techniques and tools that, in partnership with others, we are assembling, testing, adapting and testing again, for example, with soil fertility management, access to climate resilient seed varieties and the deployment biological control against pests.”
Dr Nicholls highlighted how CABI is helping to tackle challenges facing the world’s rural communities and smallholders with science-based development projects and knowledge-sharing and initiatives like Plantwise.
Full statement by CABI to the UNFCCC, delivered by CEO, Dr Trevor Nicholls
CABI signs Declaration on Agricultural Diversification
To coincide with COP21, Crops for the Future launched the Declaration on Agricultural Diversification to address the combined challenge of global warming, desertification and human reliance on just four crops to feed the world. The Declaration calls for the creation of a Global Action Plan for Agricultural Diversification (GAPAD) as well as more resilient agriculture, enhanced food and nutrition security, better knowledge sharing and alleviation of poverty.
On 7 December, Dr Nicholls signed the Declaration on behalf of CABI, the full text of which can be found here. The work of GAPAD fits closely with a number of CABI projects that address, for example, seed and soil health, and growing nutritious indigenous vegetables in Africa.
The importance of the landscape approach
At COP21, the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) brought together more than 3,000 stakeholders from agriculture, energy, finance, forestry, law and water. As the world’s leading platform for discussing land use issues, the GLF invited members of the Association of International Research and Development Centers for Research (AIRCA) to give examples of how they have developed different aspects of climate smart agriculture and how this has contributed to healthy landscapes and improved livelihoods.
On 5 December, Dr Nicholls gave a presentation at the GLF on Climate smart agriculture for healthy landscapes and livelihoods highlighting why the healthy landscape approach is important when considering agriculture and climate change. He commented on the increasing demand for the four ‘F’s - food, fodder, fuel and fibre - in order to meet the needs of a growing global population, and how important it will be to balance increased yields while, at the same time, making sustainable use of the environment that delivers them. He focused on balances and trade-offs that must be managed to meet the challenges that lie ahead. His full presentation is available below:
Climate smart agriculture for healthy landscapes and livelihoods, Presentation by Dr Trevor Nicholls (scroll to 11.40)
Climate smart agriculture
On 2 December, speaking at the UNFCCC climate studio, CABI’s Dr Janny Vos discussed the impact of climate change on agriculture, especially for the world’s 500 million smallholder farmers. She focused on the balance that must be found to help smallholders become climate smart farmers while, at the same time, being able to grow enough produce to support their livelihoods.
CABI is committed to playing its part in helping the world reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). If you would like to learn more about our work on climate change and climate smart agriculture, download our new brochure, Making a difference to sustainable development.
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