TWN and Tebtebba
statements on agriculture at climate change meetings
World Network intervention at the Workshop on Agriculture at the 5th Session
of the AWG-LCA, Bonn,
Agriculture seriously affects climate change and is in turn seriously affected by it. The large mitigation potential can change agriculture from being the second largest emitter of GHGs to a much smaller emitter or even a net sink. The overall mitigation potential is 6 billion tonnes a year, which is close to all of agriculture’s direct emissions. The greatest potential mitigation contribution is from soil carbon sequestration (5.38 billion tones annually), followed by reduction of methane emissions (500 million tones) and nitrous oxide emissions (120 million tones).
Conventional and intensive agriculture characterized by mechanization and use of agro-chemicals (mineral fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides) and reliance on high external inputs (chemicals, irrigation, fossil fuels) have led to high environmental and social costs that may undermine future capacity to maintain required levels of food production.
April 2008, the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and
Technology for Development (IAASTD) launched its report in
Sustainable agriculture, that includes organic agriculture, is an effective approach to mitigation and adaptation efforts. For that to happen, some important measures must be taken urgently.
(1) Clearly, sustainable agro-ecological agriculture should be supported and developing countries wanting to undertake or implement such activities should be enabled and supported by financing. This should be a priority, as this also supports local communities and farmers. To that end, the UNFCCC must be made friendly to small organic farmers and indigenous peoples.
(2) Capacity building activities in promoting sustainable agriculture should be supported. Arrangements should be made for the sharing of experiences and the transfer of good practices in agriculture that can constitute mitigation and adaptation efforts.
(3) Given the many advantages of organic farming and sustainable agriculture, in terms of climate change as well as social equity and farmers’ livelihoods, there should be a much more significant share of research, personnel, investment, financing and overall support from governments and international agencies that should be channeled towards sustainable agriculture. Promotion of sustainable agriculture can lead to a superior model of agriculture from the environmental and climate change perspective. As high-chemical and water-intensive agriculture is phased out, and more natural farming methods should be phased in, with research and training programmes, promoting better production performances in sustainable agriculture.
(4) In addition, international agencies and developed country governments should halt the promotion of unsustainable chemical intensive agriculture policies and programmes in developing countries that undermine climate change efforts.
Intervention at the Workshop on Agriculture at the 5th Session
of the AWG-LCA,
indigenous peoples in all parts of the world are still very much engaged
in traditional livelihoods in agriculture and agroforestry. These include
rotational agriculture or swidden agriculture, high mountain agriculture,
hunting and gathering, and pastoralism. These are very sustainable livelihoods
which continue to provide food and cash for millions of indigenous peoples.
Indigenous peoples from
agriculture, for example, is an indigenous agricultural practice embedded
with complex and sophisticated systems of resource management and knowledge
of land use and cultivation, soil types and fertility and adaptation
to climatic variations. Indigenous pastoralists like the
Maasai of Africa, the Sami reindeer herders of the
In this light, we support fully the statement of the Third World Network which called for sustainable ecological agriculture to be recognized as a key mitigation measure for climate change and as a key element for sustainable and low carbon development. We further recommend the following:
-Further studies on the contributions to mitigation, indigenous peoples agriculture and agroforestry practices should be undertaken and these potentials should be included in monitoring of mitigation measures.
-Finance and technology transfer which potentially undermine indigenous agricultural systems should be stopped.
Because of the fact that indigenous peoples' concerns in climate change cut across various issues, including agriculture, forestry, technology transfer, adaptation, mitigation, finance and long term shared vision, we propose the following;
an Expert Workshop on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change be held
to look into how indigenous peoples can effectively contribute to mitigation
measures, which includes the mitigation potentials of indigenous
agriculture and agroforestry practices, and how they can be supported
to adapt to climate change. This can be held before the AWG-LCA session