Civil Society Statement Sent to The Hague Conference on Agriculture, Food Security, and Climate Change

By Matt Styslinger

Dozens of civil society organizations have sent a statement of concern to the organizers of the Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change on Sunday, 31 October—the first day of the conference. The six day conference in The Hague was organized by the Government of the Netherlands in cooperation with the Governments of Ethiopia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, and Vietnam, as well as the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Civil Society groups demand that the voices of the world’s poor and vulnerable be heard at the Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (Photo Credit: Bernard Pollack)

The conference aims to produce concrete measures for linking agricultural policies and investments to low-carbon, climate resilient agricultural approaches. The organizers are attempting to make agriculture more central in climate negotiations at the upcoming Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Cancun, Mexico later this month. The civil society statement of concern supports that effort, but expresses serious doubts about the process—saying “top down solutions are not legitimate solutions.”

The civil society statement outlined what its signatories considered essential if the process at the conference was going to support “fair and effective solutions to the agriculture and climate crises.” The statement demanded:

  • Broad participation and transparency
  • Prioritization of ecological over industrial agriculture
  • Avoidance of expensive technological fixes that support corporate control of agricultural genetic resources
  • A focus on adaptation that includes financing to developing countries to help them cope with the consequences of climate change
  • Exclusion of a carbon markets approach that attempts to “offset” the production and consumption patterns in the developed world
  • Implementation of the policy and investment options outlined in the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD)

“Climate change threatens the livelihoods and food security of billions of the planet’s poor and vulnerable,” the statement reminded The Hague conference attendees. “Any process that ignores their voices will be questioned for lack of legitimacy.”

For more on the effects of climate change and innovations for adaptation and mitigation see: Forum Asserts Africa’s Willingness to Act and Need for Support to Address Climate Change, UN Special Rapporteur declares Low-Carbon Agriculture Shift “Urgent”, Indigenous Farming Methods: Mitigating the Effects of Climate Change While Boosting Food Production, and Fighting Two Battles with One Dialogue.

Matt Styslinger is a research intern with Nourishing the Planet.

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