This event took place to share lessons learnt from implementation of the Integrating Agriculture in National Adaptation Plans (NAP-Ag) programme, jointly coordinated by FAO and UNDP in Colombia, Guatemala and Uruguay.
Martial Bernoux, Natural Resources Officer, FAO, moderated this event, reiterating FAO’s commitment to the NDC Partnership and stressing the need to pay greater attention to the land, agriculture and forestry nexus.
Enzo Benech, Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries, Uruguay, underlined that for his country, 80% of income comes from the production and export of food and commodities, noting that any climate impacts on agriculture reverberate across the economy. Informing participants that the country produces food for three times its population, most of which is exported, he lamented that Uruguay has been vilified due to the cattle per capita ratio. Benech underlined the need for more dialogue to understand different country priorities and ways in which to address the complex climate challenges facing various countries.
Alfonso Rafael Alonzo Vargas, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Guatemala, said his country’s National Climate Change Action Plan incorporates mitigation and adaptation priority actions, including agriculture, livestock, food security, and integrated water resource management, which are also NAP-Ag priorities. He emphasized that we cannot adapt to climate change without giving it a human face, noting the importance of ensuring benefits for small-scale farmers, awareness building and education, and working with local governments.
Paula Andrea Zuleta Gil, Director, Financing and Agricultural Risk, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Colombia, presented on implementing Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) in Colombia, noting that the country’s agriculture sector is responsible for the highest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but that it is also captures the most emissions through agroforestry. Underscoring the importance of smallholder farmers, she pointed to local, multi-stakeholder technical agroclimatic committees addressing GHG emissions due to farming, as well as climate change impacts on farmers. She described a rigorous process that resulted in consensus recommendations for each crop. She then described the national roundtables, which bring together government, agriculture guilds, academies, and producers to address climate change in the agriculture sector.
Verania Chao, NDC Support Programme, moderated the panel discussion. Gil discussed an innovative agriculture insurance scheme, for small-scale coffee farmers in Colombia. The insurance, she remarked, is a partnership with Nespresso to help over 30,000 coffee farmers mitigate climate risks, while building trust with agencies for information sharing on climate impacts. She said that the government has put together actions for implementing the 2017 NAP, and noted ongoing work with FAO to develop NAP-Ag. The NAP-Ag, she added, will focus on: risk management; sustainable agriculture; agriculture and livestock resilience; low carbon policies; and institutional integration.
Walter Oyhantcabal, Director, Sustainability and Climate Change Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Uruguay, noted that the first step in addressing climate change in his country was at the national level nine years ago through multi-stakeholder consultations on adaptation. Underlining that adaptation is a process, he said that it is integral to rural development policies. Noting that the NAP process is a continual process of building capacities, he drew attention to the addition of a loss and damage component in the plan, as well as the establishment of a monitoring and evaluation process.
Martin Leal, Climate Change Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food, Guatemala, noted that his country’s NDC has a chapter on adaptation in the agriculture sector. He also pointed to the NAP, which was produced through a multi-stakeholder consultation process. He highlighted that the ministry has ensured tenure for municipal leaders through the next election cycle in order for them to implement the NAP without interruption. To this end, he pointed to over 1000 extension service workers around the country, noting also that traditional knowledge has been integrated into implementation of the Plan.
Providing a private sector perspective, Alejandro Litovsky, Founder and CEO, Earth Security Group, noted the need to ensure that adaptation and mitigation costs are not passed on to small-scale farmers, noting that sustainable farming practices are not adequately financed. He drew attention to a new Earth Security Group report, Financing Sustainable Rice for a Secure Future, which describes innovative finance partnerships for mitigation and adaptation. The report, he said, proposes among other things, a rice bond, which could help rice processors, traders and retailers provide farmers with capital to transition to sustainable agriculture, improve resilience, and boost yields.
This event focused on the growing risks posed by climate change to public health, the health benefits of climate action, and strategies to communicate these threats to increase motivation for rapid action.
Andy Haines, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), moderated this event. Stressing that climate change can affect both physical and mental health, he discussed grief caused by climate change, or solistagia. He also described decarbonization’s co-benefits for health, and discussed the links food and dietary choices have to greenhouse gas emissions.
Diarmid Campbell Lendrum, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, World Health Organization (WHO), highlighted key messages, including, inter alia: the need to tackle climate change and health concerns concurrently through addressing air pollution; the importance of investing in climate action, public health and sustainable development; and the need to address health impacts and opportunities through countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
Omnia El Omrani, Liaison Officer, Public Health Issues, International Federation of Medical Students' Associations (IFMSA), discussed, among other IFMSA measures: Recommendations for Sustainability and Climate-friendly Meetings; IFMSA Policy Statement Climate Change and Health; and the Public Health in Medical Curriculum-Student’s Toolkit.
Nick Watts, Director, Lancet Countdown, and University College London Institute for Global Health, stated that the life of every child today and in the future will be profoundly affected by climate change, and stressed that without accelerated intervention, this new era of climate change will come to define the health of people at every stage of their lives.
Pauline Scheelbeek, Centre on Climate Change and Planetary Health, LSHTM, noted that reducing yields in cereals, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds is jeopardizing nutrient availability for food systems. She drew attention to the EAT-Lancet Commission’s Report, Healthy Diets From Sustainable Food Systems, which presents a reduced consumption of animal products as healthier and more sustainable. She further demonstrated, citing the British Eat Well Guide, that adherence to healthy diets has positive impacts for climate change.
Anneliese Depoux, Director, Centre Virchow-Villermé for Public Health Paris, spoke about communicating climate change and health, noting the increase in interest by public health professionals in the climate discussions. Calling for more positive messaging, she stressed the intergenerational nature of the climate dilemma, underlining the need to learn from public health campaigns that have impacted ingrained behavior in the past.
In the discussion, participants considered, inter alia: illnesses and diseases directly linked to climate change, like dengue fever, chikungunya and malaria, whose vectors could be affected by temperature changes; barriers to accessing climate finance for the health sector; the need for ambitious NDCs, including clear health sector commitments; and the role of medical professionals in passing on climate-health messaging.