Agriculture has featured prominently in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change technical discussions but is largely absent from the formal negotiation processes. The sector is one of the most vulnerable in Southeast Asia, and a crucial backbone for smallholder food security and livelihood. Some of the region’s poorest households live on small-scale farms to supplement their food security. These communities are inevitably already vulnerable to the impact of climatic changes on their ability to grow food for their subsistence and livelihoods.
The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will commence in Marrakesh, Morocco, from November 7 to 14. One of the key features of the COP-22 will be the operationalisation of the Paris Agreement. At the margins of the COP-22, the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) will be concluding its deliberations on issues related to agriculture, with a view to determining any future action.
As a region, the ASEAN Member States are in a better position to negotiate issues related to agriculture and climate change issues. For months, the ASEAN Climate Resilience Network (ASEAN-CRN) has been facilitating the development of an ASEAN common position on issues related to agriculture. The ASEAN-CRN is a multi-stakeholder collaboration network for a sustainable, competitive, climate resilient agriculture in Southeast Asia.
Dr. Margaret Yoovatana, Senior Policy and Plan Specialist at Thailand’s Department of Agriculture and representing the current Chair of the ASEAN-CRN, said that for the first time, the Ministries of environment and agriculture will join forces to raise the profile of the agriculture sector within the international climate change negotiations for greater action.
“The regional collaboration among participating departments is a stronger and unified representation of the ASEAN to advocate key agriculture priorities from our region, as well as to share good practices and technology transfer options,” Dr. Yoovatana said.
Through a unified presence at the COP-22, the ASEAN-CRN intends to:
- Advocate the unique vulnerabilities of smallholder farmers
- Emphasise the importance of climate-smart agriculture in fostering integrated solutions
- Advocate for dedicated resources to help ensure effective support for resilience building of vulnerable smallholder farming communities and the agriculture sector
- Propose a dedicated SBSTA work programme on agriculture for future action
The ASEAN member’s states will be there in full force, supported by the ASEAN-German Programme on Response to Climate Change in Agriculture and Forestry (GAP-CC), along with other ASEAN-CRN stakeholders.
By Alvin Chandra (The University of Queensland/Caritas International)