The KJWA provides a framework to build agriculture’s climate resilience

Opinion

 

The Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) was adopted at the 23rdConference of the Parties (COP23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in November 2017, to direct the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) to jointly address issues related to agriculture. The KJWA opened the door to bold and transformative action to improve the resilience of farmers’ livelihoods and food supply, while mitigating the impacts of climate change.

The KJWA invited Parties and observers to submit views on elements to be included in the programme of work, including, but not limited to: (a) modalities for implementation of the outcomes of the five in-session workshops on issues related to agriculture and other future topics that may arise from this work; (b) methods and approaches for assessing adaptation resilience; (c) improved soil carbon, soil health and soil fertility under grassland and cropland, as well as integrated systems such as water management; (d) improved nutrient use and manure management for sustainable and resilient agricultural systems; (e) improved livestock management systems; and (f) socioeconomic and food security dimensions of climate change in the agricultural sector (for more information, see: https://bit.ly/2R0o6t7).

The outcome of these submissions is a roadmap, adopted in May 2018 at the SBSTA, which sets out the activities that will be undertaken by the joint SBI for 2018-2020. Based on this roadmap, Parties were invited to make submissions on the first topic ((a) above) prior to COP24, at the SBI's 49th session in December 2018 in Katowice, Poland. At this meeting, the Africa Group of Negotiators made several recommendations, which are key to understanding the opportunities arising from the KJWA and the ways in which ACP countries can benefit from it:

  • Climate finance – the UNFCCC needs to set aside funds to support the implementation of agriculture activities.
  • Increased international cooperation and partnerships for capacity building, technology development and transfer are needed.
  • Tracking progress – support is needed in the development of indicators, which can be used to track adaptation and mitigation efforts in Africa.
  • There is a need for vulnerability assessments, development of early warning system contingency plans, and safety nets that are gender-responsive.
  • Linkages need to be established with FAO, IFAD, and the World Bank to create a platform that will enable efforts from these organisations to feed directly into UNFCCC processes.

The KJWA’s relevance for ACP countries

The decision to focus on building agricultural climate resilience is particularly significant for African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, whose economies remain heavily dependent on the agricultural sector, which is highly climate sensitive due to generally low levels of investment – especially in water and energy infrastructure. Climate change impacts on agriculture will include geographic shifts in the distributions of crop and livestock production, as well as pests and diseases. For instance, warmer temperatures are projected to change the distribution of coffee and tea plantations in the horn of Africa, with much of the coffee producing areas of Ethiopia becoming increasingly unviable. This will inevitably impact on the distribution of the agricultural labour force, which will have a significant effect on rural and urban demographics. In turn, new patterns of agricultural commodity exchange will emerge, which will require greater investment in infrastructure (including physical, organisational and institutional infrastructure) to facilitate trade.

The KJWA offers a framework to develop support for the means of implementation – such as finance, capacity building and technology transfer – to make the required adjustments in production systems and promote investments in new infrastructure. The framework also makes provisions to increase the capacity to adapt to and mitigate the impact of climate change in the agricultural sectors of ACP countries. Specialised agencies of the UN – especially FAO and IFAD – can, in the context of the KJWA, become part of a platform that enables them to support agricultural adaptation and mitigation by applying specialist knowledge and information.

Potential outcomes of the KJWA

The KJWA focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation has potential to inform a transformational change in the land-use sector. Land-use in ACP countries is characterised by several inefficiencies, including insecure tenure, which has contributed to the low levels of investment in the agricultural sector. Reforms are required to usher in secure tenures, particularly for women and young farmers. Climate change offers immediate opportunities for ACP countries to review their tenure policies and put in place tenure regimes that allow for farmer-led adaptation to, and investments in, climate change mitigation technologies and practices. Secure tenure will in turn stimulate other sectors, such as the insurance sector, to invest more in support of agricultural production.

Climate information and services are also in urgent need of investment. The KJWA will stimulate demand for targeted climate information in order to support farmer-led investments and responses to a changing climate. This in turn will stimulate investment in the delivery of high quality demand-driven weather and climate information. The KJWA can provide capacity building support for the production, packaging and dissemination of weather and climate information to the relevant service sectors, and ensure that such information addresses the needs of users.

On the mitigation side, the KJWA is an opportunity to further develop landscape-level emissions accounting. This will support the integration of different approaches to the management of soil carbon, as well as forest-based carbon sequestration initiatives, such as REDD+. Such explorations can further support innovative research into the co-benefits of different mitigation approaches, including the integration of adaptation and mitigation interventions. All of these opportunities should constitute the design of interventions normally clustered under climate-smart agriculture.