Agriculture Must be Part of a Future Agreement in Copenhagen: Message to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Climate Change

September 22nd 2009
By Mr. Ajay Vashee,
IFAP President

First, I would like to congratulate the Secretary General for putting climate change at the core of its general assembly’s agenda and for giving farmers the opportunity to express their views.

My name is Ajay Vashee, and I am the president of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP), which unites 120 national farmers’ organisations from 80 countries.

Agriculture, and the farmers around the world who put food, on our tables are very vulnerable to climate changes. In fact, most of the world’s population is engaged in farming, providing food, feed, fiber, energy and ecosystem services to humanity. This is why it is so important that farmers should not be demonized for what they do, which is all too often the case in the climate change debate. Farmers, especially women farmers, are at the forefront of finding solutions through sustainable agricultural practices. This brings substantial benefits to rural and urban populations.

The world needs to recognize the potential of agriculture to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. Carbon sequestration through agriculture holds the greatest potential to mitigate climate change, amounting to an estimated to 5.5 GIGA tons of CO2 per year by 2030 according to the IPCCC. This sequestration potential by far overrides agricultural emissions, and 70% of it can be realised in developing countries.

This needs to be recognised by parties and negotiators in the new Copenhagen Agreement.

Farm leaders are prepared to work together with governments and international organisations to unlock this hidden potential.

We ask governments and the international community to take the following messages on board:
1. That a substantially increasing investment in agriculture is the best way to increase its resilience to climate change.
2. That fully integrating agriculture in the future Copenhagen agreement, including its specific needs and characteristics, is an absolute necessity.
3. That financial mechanisms to reward farmers for carbon sequestration, ecosystem services and permanent reductions that mitigate climate change are imperative to demonstrate tangible results on the ground.
4. And finally, that Farmers’ Organisations be recognized as key partners to international institutions and governments. DEAL with us directly, not through intermediaries who say they are working with farmers.

IFAP, together with the World Bank, the FAO, IFAD and others are organising an “Agriculture & Rural Development Day” on Dec 12 in Copenhagen, to coincide with COP15. We are all of one mind that agriculture must be fully incorporated into the Copenhagen agenda, and we will use this opportunity to lay the groundwork for strategies and actions that will see this through. We ask you, Secretary General, to help to make this happen. I look forward to us working together to take immediate action together to preserve our planet earth.

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