African food system leaders say, “Put people, nature and livelihoods at forefront of climate action”

The following statement was issued on behalf of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa. AFSA works on behalf of 37 African Networks and organisations representing up to 200 million Africans, including, small-scale farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, women networks, youth groups, agroecological entrepreneurs, environmentalists, civil society organisations and consumer groups.

AS THE world grapples with various crises, including conflicts, disease, and hunger, Africa faces multiple challenges compounded by the escalating impacts of climate change ranging from cyclones and floods to prolonged dry spells. The effect on agriculture, a significant contributor to African nations’ livelihood and economy, poses a severe threat to Africa’s population.

We acknowledge Decision 3 CP/-27: Joint work on the implementation of climate action on agriculture and food security, acknowledging the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, which expose millions, particularly small-scale farmers, low-income households, indigenous peoples, women, and youth in developing countries, to acute food and water insecurity. It also recognises that farmers, including smallholders and pastoralists, play a crucial role as stewards of the land. Their vulnerability to climate change presents challenges in fulfilling this role.

It is however regrettable that the decision does not address the diverse impacts of different agricultural and food system models on the environment and climate change.

The predominant agricultural model suggested and promoted for Africa is the industrial agriculture model, which heavily relies on artificial fertilisers and pesticides, which are detrimental to soil quality, biodiversity, and the environment. This model prioritises monocultures over diversity and encourages mass production for export, transporting food over thousands of miles and distorting local markets.

Cognisant of the four-year period allocated to the Joint work on agriculture and food security, it is deeply disappointing that the June Bonn session did not make significant progress in implementing the COP 27 decision regarding agriculture.

We therefore urgently call on agriculture negotiators to:

Embrace Agroecology – Incorporate agroecology as a standalone topic for one of the in-session workshops mentioned in paragraph 15(b) of Decision 3/CP27. Agroecology offers a sustainable and holistic approach to agriculture that can effectively address climate change challenges. It prioritises the needs and knowledge of small-scale farmers, indigenous peoples, and women, often marginalised in conventional agriculture systems. Agroecology fosters social and economic equity, crucial for building resilience in vulnerable communities. It encourages the use of natural and organic inputs, reducing reliance on synthetic fertilisers and pesticides that release greenhouse gases. Farmers can reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and synthetic inputs by using agroecological practices, enhancing their ability to cope with the impacts of climate change.

Reject False Climate Solutions – Reject the adoption of false climate solutions, such as Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA), carbon credits and Nature Based Solutions (NBS). These concepts lack clear definitions and can encompass unsustainable and harmful practices like monoculture farming, land grabs and use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Carbon credits allow historical emitters to continue emitting under the guise of offsetting emissions elsewhere, negatively affecting the lives, social fabric and livelihoods of farming and forest communities.

Prioritise Local Solutions – Focus adaptation and mitigation proposals on local solutions driven by communities, especially small-scale food producers, including small-scale farmers, forest communities, pastoralist groups and indigenous groups.

Allocate Climate Finance Wisely – Direct new and accessible climate finance to sustainable climate actions that support the needs of people and local communities- There is an urgent need for a deliberate increase in financing for small-scale farmers, fishers, pastoralists, and indigenous communities, especially in developing countries, to deliver sustainable food systems and adapt to climate change. Developed countries must fulfill their financing commitments and simplify access to climate finance funding mechanisms for local communities to benefit from these funds easily. Parties at this COP 28 should commit to delivering on old finance promises and agreeing on a framework for new financing.

We conclude with a strong reiteration of our call to national governments and delegates to prioritise nature, people’s lives and livelihoods at the heart of climate action by adopting agroecology within climate policies, practices and decisions.

More about the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa


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