Summary report, 1–14 December 2009

Copenhagen Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2009 at COP 15

The Agriculture and Rural Development Day event was held at the University of Copenhagen, in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Saturday, 12 December 2009. The event took place in parallel with the United Nations Climate Change Conference, including the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the fifth Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 5), held in Denmark from 7-18 December 2009.

The Agriculture and Rural Development Day was co-hosted by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security, the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, and the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Copenhagen. The event was attended by over 350 participants, including representatives from governments, UN and international agencies, business, NGOs, academia and farmers.

The key objectives of the meeting were to build consensus on ways to fully incorporate agriculture into the post-Copenhagen climate agenda and to discuss strategies and actions needed to address climate change adaptation and mitigation in the agriculture sector. Participants heard two keynote presentations during the opening session in the morning, and also attended four parallel roundtables before lunch. In the afternoon, there was a presentation by the US Secretary of Agriculture, and an ideas marketplace to provide an informal opportunity for dialogue and information exchange. The closing plenary was held in the early evening, during which a synthesis from the roundtables and a summary of the day were presented, followed by the premier of the film feature “Hope in Climate Change.”

The results of the Agriculture and Rural Development Day will be presented, along with outcomes from Forest Day and the FAO Climate Change and Food Security event, at a COP 15 Side Event on Monday afternoon, 14 December, titled: “Beyond Copenhagen: Agriculture and Forestry are Part of the Solution. How can forestry and agriculture help to mitigate climate change and feed 9 billion people by 2050?”


Per Holten-Andersen, Dean, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, welcomed participants to the event. He stressed that cooperation is key to solving climate challenges, underscored that while agriculture contributes to the problem, it must also be part of the solution, and highlighted that major gaps still exist in knowledge about climate change and agriculture.

Katherine Sierra, CGIAR Chair and Vice President for Sustainable Development, World Bank, emphasized the need for comprehensive national strategies on agriculture and climate change adaptation and mitigation, including the better management of livestock, waste, pollutants, disease, fisheries, soils and carbon monitoring. She said there is a need to fully embed agriculture into a climate agreement.

Gordon Conway, Imperial College London, discussed scientific perspectives on agriculture and climate change. Among other things, he said: chronic hunger is widespread and will worsen with climate change; agriculture is both a victim and culprit of climate change; farming will suffer disproportionately from climate change; and little is known about impact of adaptation and mitigation on agriculture. He identified drivers of climate change, including tropical convection, monsoons, and the El Niño-La Niña oscillation. He said these drivers impact temperature and rainfall patterns, leading to agricultural stresses and shocks in the forms of floods and droughts. Conway noted that it is cheaper to anticipate these changes than to restore agricultural systems, but anticipation requires better quality weather data, downscaled global models for projecting local effects, and improved in-country capacities. He stressed that win-win solutions are needed to increase mitigation, productivity, food security, and adaptation. He said such solutions might include: new cropping systems; conservation farming; water retaining measures; diverse agro-systems; better warning systems; and soil sequestration. He said carbon market mechanisms should reward small farmers for emission reductions and carbon sequestration efforts, but farmer-friendly assessment techniques are needed to test soil carbon. He stressed that agricultural interventions should be judged in terms of productivity, profit, sustainability, adaptation and mitigation.

Kanayo Nwanze, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said food security and climate change are interlinked and inseparable, and stressed that the decisions taken or not taken on climate change will affect our lives and those of our children. He said the dialogue between climate change and agriculture is insufficient. He underscored that poverty and hunger are on the rise, cannot be ignored, and that climate change is making them worse. Nwanze noted that fragile rural infrastructure will come under increased pressure from climate change impacts, and emphasized the great potential for mitigation in the agricultural sector.

Underscoring the challenges for Africa, he said countries need to invest in agriculture research themselves and not be dependent on international assistance. He emphasized that the international community should deliver a fair, credible and clear global agreement on climate change. He stressed that the weaker the climate deal, the greater the impact on poor rural people, adding that an ambitious deal should set the frameworks providing incentives for poor people, yet cautioning that finance should be new and not a recycling of existing money, as in the past. Nwanze said the compartmentalization of finance into adaptation and mitigation does not work well for agriculture.



The roundtable was moderated by Rodney Cooke, IFAD, and included presenter Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan, Chairman, Swaminathan Research Foundation, and panelists: Lindiwe Sibanda, CEO, Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network; Stephen Hall, The WorldFish Center; and N’douati Kariuki, Kenya National Federation of Agricultural Producer. The roundtable identified the gaps and priorities related to the links between food productivity, agriculture, and climate change. Issues addressed included identifying: where and who would be most impacted by climate change; data and research needs for improving understanding of climate-agriculture interactions; and financial implications of these needs.

Brian Baldwin, Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, was in charge of summarizing the session. He underscored the following points: food security and climate change are inseparable, and therefore agriculture must be included in any agreement; stakeholders are united in seeking profitable solutions; and links between public, private, and scientific sectors must be strengthened.


This roundtable, moderated by Wendy Mann, FAO, explored the national and international policies and institutions that incentivize agricultural adaptation and mitigation responses. Maura O’Neill, U.S. Department of Agriculture, identified priority areas such as: key elements of a development strategy to facilitate climate change resilience; differences between policies and programs for climate resilience versus those for enhancing food security; information and analysis needed to devise policy for climate resilient development strategies; and the financial implications of these needs.

Gerald Nelson, International Food Policy Research Institute, argued for increasing investments in public sector agricultural research and for improved knowledge sharing systems across disciplines and borders. Carlos Seré, International Livestock Research Institute, stated that the key policy issue is engaging small agricultural stakeholders in mitigation-related business, which poses challenges in terms of quantification and verification. Yvan Biot, Department for International Development, United Kingdom, distinguished between agricultural issues related to short-term impacts of climate change, such as dealing with local uncertainty, versus long-term impacts, for example rising global temperatures.

The ensuing discussion revolved around policy and financing as related to climate change and agriculture. Participants highlighted the challenges associated with engaging agricultural stakeholder participation across civil and private sectors, debated the differences between the impacts of climate change and food security, discussed the importance of coordinating funding at national and international levels, and emphasized the relationship between sustainable development and climate change resiliency. Pramod Joshi, of the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research in India, summarized the discussions and reiterated the need for investment in agricultural research, extensions, and capacity building.


This roundtable examined ways to support farmers and food systems as they adapt to climate change. Adel El-Beltagy, Global Forum on Agricultural Research, flagged concerns about the impact of climate change on cropping patterns, water availability, pests, and efficacy of current agricultural technologies. He emphasized that strategies for addressing climate change must build from the farmer to the global level. He called for a global alliance for food security, peace and prosperity.

Marco Ferroni, Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, called for increases in yield potential through improved crop varieties and better natural resource management. Sara Scherr, Ecoagriculture Partners, emphasized the need for a landscape approach to tackling climate change and called for increased investment in agricultural institutions and effective rural finance for integrated climate prevention. Sarala Gopalan, a farmer from India, said farmers need relevant agricultural research provided in clear and simple ways. Peter Kendall, National Farmers Union of England and Wales, called for greater consumer awareness of food choice impact on the environment.

Thomas Rosswall, Climate Change Action Fund, summarized the ensuing discussion with the following points: agriculture should be a prominent factor no only into the climate change negotiations, but also into the biodiversity and desertification negotiations; climate change is a global issue that demands local solutions; and incentive systems in terms of finance and policy are needed to assist farmers.


Erick Fernandes, World Bank, moderated the roundtable. Axel Michaelowa, Perspectives Climate Change, noted that while agriculture is a major source of GHGs, accounting for 10 to 12% of emissions, there are no agriculture projects under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). He underscored challenges for inclusion of agriculture in the carbon markets, such as ambiguous scientific knowledge, and highlighted public-private partnerships as essential. Fernandes noted that CDM was a great lost opportunity.

Ralph Ashton, the Terrestrial Carbon Group, said climate change financing would not solve agriculture problems, underscored the need for a holistic landscape approach to forestry and agriculture, and noted the need for specific proposals on how to include agriculture in carbon markets. Andreas de Neergaard, University of Copenhagen, noted that most of the agriculture mitigation potential resides in developing countries, and stressed the importance of incentives for farmers.

Mohammed Adow, Christian Aid, said agriculture in Africa will not benefit from carbon finance, similarly as it did not benefit from the CDM. He urged a focus on livelihoods and sustainable agriculture rather than on carbon offsets.

The ensuing discussion focused on, inter alia: aggregation of small scale emissions by agro-industries; the importance of methodologies and prospects of activities-based approaches; certification; the need to collaborate with regulators; experiences learned from the forest sector; the role of financial derivatives and carbon bundling; and issues of scale.


Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, discussed climate change and global food security, encompassing both the developed and developing world, which he highlighted as the globe’s two defining issues. He described how food demands are increasing, while the quantity of water is decreasing, aridity is spreading, and weather patterns are becoming more erratic. He said these factors impact food yields, which can in turn lead to economic and political instability. Vilsack stressed the role of agriculture in mitigating climate change, and the need for transformational change to meet the world’s food needs. He emphasized that the goal of agricultural research should be to improve health, safety, and quality of life for people throughout the world. To achieve this ultimate end, he identified areas that need attention, including: climate change research, to provide relevant, local-scale information to small farmers worldwide; agricultural research, to improve crop and livestock yield and resiliency; and climate change mitigation research, to develop carbon markets for a sustainable world. He concluded his speech by encouraging participants to think of climate change less in analytical terms, and more in personal terms, since future generations will face the consequences of agricultural decisions made today.

In the ensuing question and answer session, participants asked about subsidies and the Doha trade round, support for mitigation and the US contribution, COP15 negotiations, and climate change and food security. On subsidies, Vilsack said that it is important to compare farmer’s benefits from open access to trade with those of the subsidies. On support for mitigation, he said that no matter how much financing developed countries put on the table, it will not be enough, and it is necessary to create incentives and institutions to promote private sector investment. On international support for mitigation by the US, he said his country’s role is first and foremost to provide resources, but also to foster research and promote good practices, citing as examples improving the ingredients in livestock feed and developing and implementing second and third generation biofuel feedstocks. Vilsack emphasized that though it is important to increase food production, it is also essential to ensure that its nutritional value is fully realized and that the food reaches people. On the climate negotiations, Vilsack highlighted his priority as helping the US Congress to understand the importance of agriculture as a tool for adaptation and mitigation. He said in the US agriculture represents about 7% of the GHG emissions but could account for 20% of the solution. Vilsack underscored that food security and climate change are linked and one cannot be addressed without the other. He emphasized the need to ensure that food security and alleviating hunger are not lost in the climate change debate.


Thomas Rosswall, presented the findings of the four Roundtables to the afternoon plenary.

Ajay Vashee, President, International Federation of Agricultural Producers, synthesized the day’s discussions by focusing on the fact that food security and, by extension, national security, depends on a stable climate, thus the Copenhagen and post-Copenhagen agenda must incorporate agriculture. He said that agriculture is already affected by climate change, and comprehensive risk management, financing programs, and policy initiatives are needed to involve all stakeholders in solutions. He concluded that agriculture is the intersection of poverty reduction, food security, and climate change, and, therefore, presents the potential for win-win-win solutions to these issues.

Mark Cackler, Manager, Agriculture and Rural Development, World Bank, reiterated that agriculture lies at the apex of poverty alleviation, economic growth, and environmental sustainability. In the ensuing discussion participants noted, inter alia, that: adaptation money should be separate and distinct from mitigation funding; developing institutions require direct and unmediated access to funding; the role of women is central to agricultural issues worldwide; and a unified message on agriculture needs to be presented during the climate negotiations.

Lindiwe Sibanda said the session had identified the key elements necessary to inform the negotiators at COP 15 on how agriculture should be addressed. She stressed that food security and climate change are inseparable, and questioned to the best way to communicate the message to ensure that agriculture is a part of the agreement. She identified priorities highlighted in the conference, such as: food provision; addressing overconsumption and waste; the role of women; sustainable land uses; the need to look at biofuels in a pragmatic manner; addressing invasive species; having small farmers and large producers accrue the benefits of the carbon trade; the need for clear communication and clean technologies; literacy; modalities to access financing; and bottom-up approaches. She said that all farmers have a stake in agriculture and climate change and need to speak with one voice, and cautioned against compartmentalizing agriculture.

Sibanda thanked the hosts, organizers, presenters and participants and closed the meeting with the message “no agriculture, no deal.”

The Agriculture and Rural Development Day Bulletin is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <>. This issue was written and edited by Deborah Davenport, Ph.D., Elisa Morgera, Ph.D., Lynn Wagner, Ph.D., and Simon Wolf. The Digital Editors are Kate Harris and Diego Noguera. The Editor is Robynne Boyd <>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <>. Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958-7710. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (in HTML and PDF formats) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at <>. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11A, New York, New York 10022, United States of America.


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