Climate change is the one challenge facing every single member of the world’s population. The world’s major opportunity to organize and mobilize our response to this threat, the 18th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP18), begins at the end of this month in Doha, Qatar. Held annually, this meeting serves as a venue for parties to gather and share information on greenhouse gas emissions, national policies, and best practices, and to cooperate in preparing for adaptation to the impacts of climate change.
Agriculture at COP18
So why is this a particularly important year? Beyond the sparkle of alternative energy and transportation, there is considerable energy around land-based mitigation and adaptation efforts. And in the past few years, agriculture has gained increasing prominence during the climate negotiations and parallel side events.
For example, it is particularly momentous that agriculture is on the agenda for the 37th session of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). The SBSTA carries out methodological work and promotes collaboration in the field of research and systematic observation of the climate system, providing the scientific and technological inputs for decisions relating to the Convention or its Kyoto Protocol. This will be a continuation of the deliberations that began in the spring during its 36th session, and will hopefully result in recommendations regarding climate-smart agriculture for consideration and adoption by the negotiators at COP18. Submissions by government, inter-governmental, and non-governmental organizations are available online, and present a diversity of perspectives on the trajectory of the SBSTA’s agriculture work program.
Beyond the potential for a SBSTA decision, a number of side events will hone in on topics of relevance to integrated agricultural landscapes – from integrated finance mechanisms to building resilience in agricultural landscapes. Standing as the centerpiece of all these sessions are two days of conferences (formerly known as Forest Day and Agriculture and Rural Development Day [ARDD]) flying under the banner of Living Landscapes; Forest Day on 2 December and the newly-titled Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods (ALL) Day on 3 December. As noted on the Blog during the last ARDD at the Rio+20 convention in June, the oft-quoted World Bank Vice-President of Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte emphasized that she did not want to attend another Agriculture and Rural Development Day, but rather felt a transition to ‘Landscape Days’ was necessary. With landscape approaches as this year’s organizing principle, we seem to be headed in that direction.
This year’s conference is going to be particularly participatory, with ways to stay engaged no matter where you are. For those attending the conference, check out this list of relevant side events, and plot a course for the two weeks. Presentations and panels at Forest Day and Agriculture, Landscapes, and Livelihoods (ALL5) Day will be webcast, and activities during those two days can be followed on Twitter through the hashtag #ALLForest. And of course, the Landscapes Blog will be reporting on the lead-up and outcomes (live from Doha!). So stay tuned.