Home Opinion Featured Articles COP 28 Agriculture Negotiations, ‘Disappointing’, like the Wet Gun Powder – AFSA

COP 28 Agriculture Negotiations, ‘Disappointing’, like the Wet Gun Powder – AFSA

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Dr Million Belay
Dr. Million Belay, General Coordinator, Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)

Although COP28 creates opportunities for decision-making and a concrete way forward on the implementation of actions in agriculture and food security, adaptation, finance, loss and damage, among others, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), which represents 37 African networks and organisations representing 200 million Africans, expresses profound disappointment and concern regarding the stalled negotiations on the Sharm el-Sheikh Joint Work on Agriculture and Food Security (SSJW). 

The COP28 should not allow parties to conclude an honest stock-taking exercise and agree on concrete goals and targets to secure a sustainable and liveable future for all, putting the most vulnerable at the forefront of climate action. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind over since the release of the draft text by the presidency. 

 

AFSA notes that, despite the critical importance of these issues, the SSJW negotiations at COP 28 have reached a deadlock, continuing the lack of progress witnessed at the Subsidiary Body (SB) 58 meeting in Bonn, in June. 

While it’s particularly disappointing like the wet gun powder, Joint Work discussions have stopped, it’s not over. When negotiators resume next June, they’ll be looking back on COP28 – which means a strong showing for food systems in civil society is still hugely important.

“This deadlock is further compounded by the fact that the negotiations concluded with no substantive agreements. The postponement of negotiations until June 2024 signals a worrying delay in addressing the urgent climate challenges facing African agriculture, critically undermining the potential for meaningful climate action in a sector integral to Africa’s survival and resilience,” AFSA Communications Officer, Kirubel Tadele lamented.

AFSA’s concern deepens with the recent draft of the Global Stocktake, which alarmingly omits actions on food systems transformation. This significant oversight undermines the essential role of agriculture in both climate mitigation and adaptation efforts, sidelining a key element in the fight against climate change.

European Union (EU) Climate Commissioner, Wopke Hoekstra has said that the “text as it now stands is disappointing” and “not adequate to addressing the problem.” He and Spanish environment minister Teresa Ribera who are co-lead of the EU delegation at COP28 have been giving their reaction to reporters. 

Ribera said there are elements of the text that are “fully unacceptable” and it is “missing many things” but Hoekstra did concede that there are a few good things in it. 

Both acknowledge that this could be the start of a long process, saying the European Union delegation will talk as long as is needed to get the changes it feels are necessary. 

At the German Climate Pavilion in Dubai, the Germany’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said that the draft deal at COP28 climate summit was clearly insufficient and disappointing. She said that replacing fossil fuels was completely absent from the draft deal, meaning Germany could not support it.

 

“It will be difficult to reach a conclusion here by midday tomorrow. This is not a problem for the European delegation. We have time and we are prepared to stay a little longer,” Baerbock said.

Reflecting on these groom circumstances from COP 28 negotiations, AFSA strongly urges immediate action on the SSJW impasse to break the deadlock in the SSJW negotiations. “We call for renewed commitment and pragmatic dialogue to establish a clear and actionable roadmap for integrating agricultural concerns within the global climate agenda,” Kirubel, demanded.

As the inclusion of food systems in the Global Stocktake, there is need to recognize and reinstate the pivotal role of food systems transformation in climate resilience and mitigate climate change impact for the most vulnerable in the Global Stocktake. 

“Nutrition comes from diversity and diversity is a source of resilience,” Dr. Million Belay, General Coordinator, Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), reminded.

 

At a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change event, Dr. Million Belay, the General Coordinator for the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa said something that stuck everyone on the continued emphasis on Agroecology as a sustainable and inclusive approach, should be central in policy discussions, program intervention and implementation strategies for climate-resilient agriculture. 

Dr. Million Belay believed that agroecology has three legs: It’s a “practice,” a “cutting-edge science,” and a “social movement.” 

 

“We strongly promote agroecology, which encompasses a model of agriculture based on diversifying farms and farming landscapes, transitioning from chemical inputs to bio-inputs, optimising biodiversity and stimulating interactions between different species as part of holistic strategies to build long-term healthy and climate-resilient agroecosystems, promote territorial markets and secure livelihoods”, AFSA’s COP28 policy brief indicates.

AFASA urges to prioritizes local, community-driven solutions, especially those supporting small-scale food producers, pastoralists, fisheries and indigenous groups; and advocate for strategic allocation of climate finance to support grassroots, sustainable climate actions, particularly for vulnerable communities in Africa.

AFSA remains steadfast in its commitment to advocating for the integration of agroecology within climate policies and decisions. The challenges highlighted at COP 28 must be addressed with urgency and decisive action. The future of our food systems and the well-being of millions depend on it.

However, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) applauds the first actions taken at COP 28. The agreement on the operationalization of the loss and damage deal, the signing of the ‘Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action’ by 134 world leaders, as well as the COP 28 Presidency’s focused on food systems transformation, with all its drawbacks, and the global agreement to reduce methane production by 30% by 2030, are among the notable outcomes.

To drive the nail home, the IPCC Summary report for policymakers with high confidence recognises the importance of Agroecological principles and practices, ecosystem-based management in fisheries and aquaculture, and other approaches that work with natural processes, support food security, nutrition, health and well-being, livelihoods and biodiversity, sustainability, and ecosystem services. 

 

This inspires AFSA’s climate goal of strengthening Africa’s resilience to climate change by integrating agroecology into climate change decisions and policies. In this, we prioritise adaptation actions that put small-scale food producers and indigenous communities at the centre of climate solutions, blending local and indigenous knowledge with cutting-edge science without threatening biodiversity and food security.

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