FAO at COP26

Highlights and images for 3 November 2021

Glasgow, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Raising Climate Ambition and Actions for Agriculture and Food Systems: Boosting Koronivia

Amid ongoing efforts to mainstream the transformation of agriculture and food systems within the UNFCCC process, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) convened this side event on the sidelines of the COP 26 negotiations. Discussions focused on current activities and potential future options for the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (Koronivia) which was established at COP 23 in 2017. The event was organized by FAO, WWF International, Biovision, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), and the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CGIAR).

The event highlighted that:

  • feeding humanity requires a systemic transformation to build resilience to climate change and protect soils, water, ecosystems, and farmers, which is very different from the “green revolution”; 
  • farmers and young people must be included and empowered; and
  • on-the-ground implementation of Koronivia’s decisions must be fostered.

Martina Fleckenstein, WWF International, moderated the event. 

Martial Bernoux, FAO, introduced Koronivia, saying it originated from a COP 23 decision to make agriculture a permanent topic under the UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). He said options for COP 26 outcomes on Koronivia depend on the ambition of parties and underscored the urgent need to ensure investment and to develop technical priorities and institutional modalities for long-term impact.

Juan Lucas Restrepo, Director General, Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), stressed research and innovation for implementing Koronivia on the ground. He highlighted CGIAR’s relevant work in research and technology and called for more investment and strategic partnerships for “people, nature, and climate,” particularly for the global South, to fulfill the Paris Agreement.

Segment 1: Examples from Member States, Koronivia Spokespersons and Youth to Show How Countries Are Taking Actions to Apply Koronivia

Karla Mena Soto, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Costa Rica, said her country’s priority now is developing policy for sustainable ecological processes, greenhouse gas emission reductions, climate resilience, and increased productivity and food security. She underscored the need to explain Koronivia to producers for on-the-ground implementation benefiting people and nature.

Karla Mena Soto, Costa Rica, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Costa Rica

Ayman Tharwat Amin Abdel-Aziz, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Egypt, summarized challenges for feeding the world in the future, including: building a safety net for farmers; improving the outcomes of agricultural production systems; scaling up farmers’ productivity; and increasing the “value” in value chains. He noted no “one size fits all” for implementation in different regions, climates, and populations. He pointed to a growing consensus that Koronivia should become an official body under the UNFCCC to: steer agriculture and identify future elements for UNFCCC discussions; develop flagship projects on adaptation and mitigation for different regions; and mobilize resources. He called mitigation a co-benefit of the adaptation that will increase small farmers’ incomes and urged mobilizing finance, capacity, and technology transfer. 

Genna Tesdall, Youth Constituency of the UNFCCC (YOUNGO), introduced the YOUNGO Global Youth Statement and noted policy “is never with us without us” in calling for co-leadership for youth in developing and implementing policy. She urged explicit mention of agro-ecology in the COP 26 Koronivia workshop outcomes, emphasizing food security, food sovereignty, and a just transition at the national and international levels.

During an ensuing discussion, panelists focused on the need to include youth and producers in national implementation, multi-stakeholder projects, and intergovernmental bodies, and on the increasing focus of researchers on participatory methods and demand-based research. Regarding the degree of consensus within the Koronivia group, panelists highlighted that lessons learned and the identification of projects engender much discussion and called for explicit mention of agro-ecology for determining projects for implementation.

Fabio Leippert, Biovision Foundation, spoke on the climate potential of agro-ecology. After an introductory video, he explained that agro-ecology can build climate-resilient livelihoods and food systems and strengthen mitigation through: diversifying the landscape; improving the fertility of soils; and putting people at the center. He concluded that to harness agriculture’s full transformative potential regarding climate change: complexity must be embraced; co-creation of knowledge, participatory innovation, and capacity building are essential; and agro-ecology is gaining momentum in numerous fora and countries.

Segment 2: Input on Implementation on the Ground

Fergus Sinclair, Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF), spoke on the agro-ecology coalition’s contributions to Koronivia. He noted agro-ecology was put on the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) agenda thanks to civil society demand. He said the coalition emerged at the UNFSS and includes: implementing the Committee on World Food Security’s (CFS) recommendations on agro-ecology; reconfiguring research and development for the co-creation of knowledge; integrating policy across scales and ministries; and encouraging the private sector to embrace and invest in agro-ecology, in order to transform food systems.

Fergus Sinclair, CIFOR-ICRAF

Kelly Witkowski, IICA, reported on a Caribbean-based project on strengthening climate resilience through ecosystem-based adaptation and community engagement. She stressed assessment of impacts through monitoring productivity, income, and livelihood diversification, along with spatial environmental data, to learn how to combine these to enhance agriculture’s resilience and then incorporate these lessons into the Koronivia process.

Safira Nurul Izzah, International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences, Indonesia, noted her organization’s three values of environment, education, and empowerment. She stressed four principles for reducing consumers’ food-related carbon footprint: buy local food; make your own food; share knowledge about local food; and eliminate food waste.

Safira Nurul Izzah, IAAS Indonesia

Closing Remarks

Closing the session, Walter Oyhantcabal, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Uruguay, noted climate change’s challenges to agriculture for producing more food in a more sustainable manner. He warned that the green revolution’s mistakes, increasing production while ignoring its harmful impacts, cannot be repeated; instead, he said, the world must build climate resilience within a systemic transformation to protect soils, water, and ecosystems, while feeding all of humanity. He called for transforming words into decisions and concrete actions using a systemic approach recognizing both synergies and trade-offs. 

Moderator Fleckenstein closed the meeting, calling for integrating a food systems approach into the UNFCCC negotiations. 


Anneleen Vanuffelen | anneleen.vanuffelen@fao.org

Etienne Drieux | Etienne.Drieux@fao.org






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