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A statement by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva
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28 November 2016

Climate Change and Agroforestry


It is a great pleasure to welcome you today to discuss the relationship between climate change and agriculture, in particular agroforestry.

I thank the Government of Italy for co-organizing this event with FAO, in collaboration with the “Fondazione Centro per un Futuro Sostenible”.

Last week, we received here at FAO the visit of the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Ambassador Peter Thomson of Fiji.

Ambassador Thomson was categorical in alerting us: if we do not change the way we do business, the temperature of the planet will reach levels at which it is not clear our civilization can function.   

We should not doubt it. We cannot take this risk.

Climate change is a very serious threat. 

We have to act.

We have to put the Paris Agreement in practice.

And agriculture and food systems are an important part of the solution to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and promote adaptation to a changing climate.

Especially for poor family farmers of developing countries. Many of them already food insecure.

They are by far the most vulnerable.

They need support to face extreme natural events which are more frequent and intense.

Otherwise, these poor rural people will have no option other than seeking hope and refuge in cities already crowded. Or in other countries, and even on other continents far from home.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I left the UN Climate Conference, COP22, in Marrakech, with mixed feelings.

I was glad to see that COP22 marked the recognition that agriculture and food systems are fundamental for sustainable development.

They offer a “triple win”: tackling climate change, extreme poverty and hunger at the same time.

It was the clear message from the action days. Three of them co-organized by FAO: on agriculture and food security, on forests and on oceans.

Countries are responding.

More than 90 percent of them have included agriculture in their Nationally Determined Contributions, the NDCs.

And 78% of the NDCs are linked to the SDG 2 of ending hunger.

However, it was really disappointing to notice that only 2% of the climate funding is being directed to agriculture, including forest, land use, fisheries, livestock and others. 

This is extremely low. We need much more.

Developing countries and poor rural communities need much more. They are at risk.

I urge donors to revert this situation.  

Investments in agriculture are fundamental to implement the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

In addition, FAO trusts that countries will soon find consensus to approve a resolution on agriculture, within the UNFCCC negotiations.

Apparently, countries are seeking more balance between adaptation and mitigation measures.     

FAO’s view is that this is false trade-off.

In agriculture, adaptation and mitigation are two facets of the same coin.

The way we adapt helps to mitigate.

FAO intends to better explore this synergy and support countries in the negotiations until COP 23 in November next year.

Ladies and gentlemen, 

My last point is more focused on agro-forestry.

I would like to highlight that we are moving into a new paradigm for sustainable agriculture.

Producing more with less environmental impacts has been not enough to reduce the ‘footprint’ of agriculture.

Vast areas are still being cleared for agriculture, even with efficient farming and intensification.

We need to promote sustainable agriculture that provides food supplies, ecosystem services and climate resilience at the same time.

We need better coordination of farm and non-farm natural resource management.

And agro-forestry is important to develop an efficient land-use approach, where trees can be managed together with crops and animal production systems.

This will help to diversify and sustain production while increasing social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all scales, especially the poorest and marginalized populations.

I welcome you all once again, and wish you fruitful deliberations and a successful event.

Thank you for your attention.