CANCUN, MEXICO, December 9, 2010 — A group of global leaders and policy makers called today for agriculture to play a key role in the architecture of climate finance, announcing at the Cancun climate conference a new initiative to make agriculture part of the solution to climate change and not part of the problem.
Among those present at the announcement of the Roadmap for Action: Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change were Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Robert B. Zoellick, President of the World Bank Group.
The Roadmap outlines concrete actions linking agriculture-related investments and policies with the transition to climate-smart growth and highlights a “triple-win” approach. It advocates getting the right policies and programs in place that will increase farm productivity and incomes; make agriculture more resilient to variations in climate (and thus promote stability and security); and make the sector part of the solution to climate change by sequestering more carbon into the soil and biomass.
Other high-level participants included Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture, Vietnam; Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, USA; Erik Solheim, Minister of Environment and Development, Norway; Tabaré Aguerre, Minister of Agriculture, Uruguay; and Jacques Diouf, Director-General, UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The event was moderated by Hans Hoogeveen, Director General, Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, the Netherlands.
Speaking at the high-level event, World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick advocated for an integrated approach to the problem.
“We know that we need to increase agricultural production by 70 percent by 2050 to feed nine billion people and that climate changes risk more uncertainty and potentially serious down-side possibilities,” Zoellick said. “Agriculture, forestry, and land use change account for more than 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. So we need to make the agriculture sector and soil carbon part of the solution to climate change.”
There is a growing recognition that agriculture in developing countries must become “climate smart” to cope with the combined challenges of feeding a warmer, more heavily populated world.
Minister Cao Duc Phat of Vietnam said, "It is likely that climate change will reduce agricultural productivity and impact peoples incomes in many areas that already experience high levels of food insecurity. We urgently need action on this important issue and Vietnam looks forward to help moving the agenda forward."
The Roadmap is the result of discussions among 70 ministers of agriculture and other agricultural leaders at the Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change, hosted by the Government of the Netherlands, November 1-5, 2010.
The speakers recognized a history of under-investment in agriculture over the past decades which must be reversed and argued that, while things have changed for the better recently, agriculture remains underfunded. African countries have committed to increasing spending on agriculture to 10% of their national budgets and there are signs of progress towards that goal.
Speakers agreed that agriculture needs to tap into funds available for climate change. It’s vital, they said, that agriculture is understood to have a key role to play and that the needs and interests of the farming and food communities in developing countries are reflected in any Cancun agreements.
“To feed the world, we need another agricultural revolution,” said Minister Solheim of Norway. “To help avoid catastrophic climate change, we need the large-scale, cost effective emission reductions that agriculture can deliver. We know that this can be done while protecting the world’s remaining tropical forests. But action – decisive, immediate, large-scale, coordinated action – is urgent.”
Zoellick highlighted the Fast Start financing agreements and the international community’s US$4.5 billion commitment to REDD+ and its US$6.4 billion commitment to the Climate Investment Funds. He also noted that the World Bank Group financing for agriculture has increased by 60% over the past six years and doubled in Africa.
“We know what we need to do to achieve that elusive triple win”, he said. “A number of countries are already making real progress, but the immediate challenge is making sure that financing flows in the right directions – so far only 2% of flows have gone to Africa. We must ensure financing gets to countries with the strategies for increasing food productivity, building food security, and addressing climate change.”
The World Bank Group currently supports climate change-related activities in 130 countries; many of these projects or programs include support to agricultural activities and rural development.