An 80-nation conference on food security urged U.N. climate negotiators on Friday to consider agriculture when drawing up strategies to fight climate change.
The five-day meeting ended with a call to invest in new farming practices that will curb greenhouse gas emissions and will better use currently available land to feed a global population of 9 billion by 2050.
About 30 per cent of carbon emissions come from farming, livestock and forest destruction.
Despite its huge share of global emissions, accounting for the use of land is one of the toughest issues under negotiation at U.N. climate talks, and the one which has made the least progress.
The talks involve creating incentives for emission reductions by vast agricultural conglomerates and by farmers still using wooden ploughs on tiny plots. It also touches an industry that is heavily subsidized in many countries.
Dutch Agriculture Minister Henk Bleker said funding for “climate-smart” agriculture should be integrated into U.N. negotiations.
Investment “in agricultural development has been declining in the last 10 years,” Mr. Bleker told reporters. “We want to change that.”
Negotiators reconvene in Cancun, Mexico, later this month, in the most important session since the summit last December in Copenhagen. That convention in Denmark fell short of any legally binding agreement to regulate the pollution blamed for global warming, concluding instead with a statement of principles.
But the leaders in Copenhagen agreed to channel $10 billion a year to developing countries through 2012, and to raise $100 billion annually starting in 2020 to help poor countries curb their own emissions and to adapt to changing climate conditions.
“Climate change negotiators are frequently not familiar with agriculture,” said the World Bank’s special envoy on climate change, Andrew Steer. “Nobody expects a global deal at Cancun, but there will surely be one before too long,” and agriculture must be part of it, he told the conference earlier this week.
Mr. Bleker said he was not suggesting that new money be found for climate-friendly agriculture policies, but that farming issues be factored in when the climate funds are distributed to developing countries. Sixty government ministers were among the 800 participants.
Producing what it called a “roadmap for action,” the conference called for governments to provide access to financing, markets and technology, while acknowledging that private business will play a huge role.
Among its list of recommended actions was the restoration of degraded land, new systems of water conservation and harvesting, and better management of animal waste that produces powerful greenhouse gases.