Agriculture is clearly important for climate. How will COP27 be addressing this?

Call to action 10 October 2022
Agriculture and food will be centre-stage at COP27 on climate in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 7 to 18 November 2022. In line with the Koronivia joint work, States will have to make commitments regarding their agricultural sector, forests and soils. First and foremost, they will have to decide on the place to be given to agricultural issues in upcoming international climate talks.
Every year in the Kolda region of Senegal, farmers set fire to their fields to eliminate weeds © R. Belmin, CIRAD
Every year in the Kolda region of Senegal, farmers set fire to their fields to eliminate weeds © R. Belmin, CIRAD

Every year in the Kolda region of Senegal, farmers set fire to their fields to eliminate weeds © R. Belmin, CIRAD

The IPCC has documented the importance of agriculture and food systems for climate. These sectors account for 37% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. At the same time, the land sector, in the form of vegetation and soils, is a major carbon sink, and captures 29% of total GHG emissions. Nevertheless, these questions have only recently been considered in international talks. 

CIRAD will be at COP27 as an observer of the talks, and also as organizer of several events, alongside its partners from France, Europe and the global South. This will be an opportunity for it to promote certain major research results to policymakers and other participants: negotiators, country delegations, observers such as NGOs, the media, etc. Those results concern the impact of climate change on agricultural activities, how to adapt agriculture and food systems to climate change, and the role agriculture and food systems could play in mitigation processes, particularly in tropical and Mediterranean countries.

Agriculture and food are at last on the agenda for COP climate talks 

For the first time ever, the 27th edition of the Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) will include a pavilion for food systems. This year’s conference will also look at the completion of the Koronivia joint work, which should ideally result in State commitments in the agricultural sector. These long-awaited talks concern a sector that is both a victim of and source of solutions to climate change.

Along with its partners, CIRAD has made an active contribution to four topics covered in the work: soil fertility, carbon and health; organic fertilization; food security and the socioeconomic aspects of climate change in the agricultural sector; and livestock and agropastoral systems.  

CIRAD considers that these questions cannot wait any longer: agriculture in Mediterranean and tropical countries has been particularly hard hit and needs public policy support. Moreover, such countries often suffer from a lack of knowledge, which must be remedied by means of substantial investment in research.

Africa’s COP

COP27 has been called Africa’s COP, and will focus on North-South solidarity. It is therefore eagerly awaited by countries in the global South. There will also be discussions on how to adapt agriculture to cope with increasingly frequent droughts.

Links to be forged with  COP15 on biodiversity and health issues

Among other things, health issues are directly related to the impacts of climate change on agricultural yields. However, biodiversity also plays a major role : for many farmers in the global South, crop diversity acts as a lever for drought resistance, and guarantees a varied diet. 

To address these various issues in a systemic, effective way, CIRAD advocates closer links between the COP on climate and those on biodiversity and desertification, taking account of the related health issues. It also feels that land is a sector that spans the various international conventions.