25 January, 2016

We need to scale up climate adaptation programmes

Fairtrade coffee beans
by Catalina Jaramillo, climate officer for CLAC

Farming communities, especially in developing nations, are increasingly feeling the brunt of climate change. Indeed, latest data suggests that 2015 was the warmest on record. Catalina Jaramillo, climate officer from CLAC, Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers, reflects on the UN climate change talks in Paris he attended, as part of the Fairtrade International delegation. 

COP21, also known as 2015 Paris Climate Conference, was a historic summit aiming to make a 'major deal for mankind'. It brought for the first time world leaders from all the 195 nations into a common cause: to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius. This was a substantial step forward in the effort to combat global change in climate and showed joint concern about what people around the world are facing today.

There was a great excitement and enthusiasm amongst the delegates in Paris. And I couldn't be more enthusiastic about the commitments agreed at the COP21, as a climate officer, and an individual who is passionate about farming.

Following the conference, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change said: “One planet, one chance to get it right and we did it in Paris. We have made history together. It is an agreement of conviction. It is an agreement of solidarity with the most vulnerable. It is an agreement of long-term vision, for we have to turn this agreement into an engine of safe growth.”

Producers, especially in developing countries, are increasingly feeling the brunt of climate change effects, such as higher temperatures, increased rain fall, floods and droughts. Recently, “El Niño” has caused for instance a very intense drought across Central America which may lead to important crops for the global market such as coffee being seriously affected.

climate change

Climate change is certainly affecting food production. This means that everyone across the supply chain - from a farmer to a consumer - will soon feel effects of the changing climate.  

Pledges need to become a reality

For farmers and the most vulnerable nations, the most significant and tangible commitment is the pledge by developed countries to deliver $100 billion a year of aid to poorer nations for climate-related projects by 2020. Farmers need capital investments to make climate-adaptation and mitigation programmes a reality. These key programmes enable them to apply changes to various farming techniques, stay in business and make farming viable. They are already becoming an essential part of farming. The COP21 pledges therefore need to become a reality too.

Decisions and planning activities on climate change are made on a very high level which means that the needs of a producer and their day-to-day challenges are rarely taken into account.  Producers need to be involved to create real solutions. Climate change adaptation activities demand funds, long term commitment and participation from all actors across the supply chain to make impact for all concerned.

Fairtrade has run several pilots around the world helping producers adapt by identifying their risks and challenges with support from committed buyers, to ensure integration across the supply chain. For example, Fairtrade International developed a joint climate adaptation project with the supermarket chain Lidl and farmers at Agroindustrial Sonomoro Coffee Cooperative in Junin, Peru. The project was successful and it showed what could be done when all parties work together. Most recently, the Fairtrade Finland Development Cooperation Programme has supported Fairtrade coffee farmers in Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua in combating a disease called leaf rust by planting more resistant coffee varieties, among others. Now we need to scale up this kind of experiences globally.

The commitments made in Paris are coined as durable and ambitious. Will they meet the needs of farmers?

In the next few years, governments need to identify actions to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels to keep their pledge. We – farmers, businesses and consumers – have the power to influence change and so we all need to get involved, as well as holding our governments  to account, to ensure viable solutions to the historic COP21 agreements, as they have been called, take place.

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