Mitigation of Climate Change in Agriculture (MICCA) Programme
Questions and answers with Claudio Forner
Claudio Forner of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat recently came to Rome to attend a workshop organized by FAO and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) on Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). We asked him about how NAMAs fit into the big picture of global efforts to mitigate climate change in agriculture.
What role do NAMAs play in UNFCCC’s ongoing efforts to reach a new global agreement on climate change?
NAMAs are seen as way of providing incentives to developing countries to enhance action on mitigation. The last few years under the UNFCCC have witnessed intense negotiations towards an international arrangement that is effective and works for all countries. In particular, negotiations for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol have been difficult because some countries believe that this instrument alone is not delivering the necessary action. In the medium term, the second commitment period of the Protocol will be an important element of action, and will be complemented by other elements including NAMAs. Support in the form of finance, technology and capacity building for developing countries to prepare and implement NAMAs will be determinant to the success of the agreement. To date, a number of developing countries have already come forward with NAMAs. A few will use domestic resources and have noted that they could be more ambitious if they receive additional support. These are very positive developments.
The role of NAMAs in the longer term is less clear at this stage. In Durban, a new process leading to a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force was launched. Work started this year and should come to an end in 2015. As the process is at an initial stage, Parties have not reached a stage to identify specific action elements. However, the process of preparation, implementation and provision of support for NAMAs could have an influence on these talks.
How does the UNFCCC support the development of NAMAs?
The development of NAMAs is entirely in the hands of countries, so the UNFCCC is not deeply involved in the specific process of formulation and implementation. Through the UNFCCC, developed countries have agreed to provide finance, technology and capacity building to developing countries so that they can step up efforts to reduce their emissions and secure a sustainable development path. The UNFCCC has played an important role in sending clear signals to both developed and developing countries that NAMAs can create opportunities for channelling international support, including, finance, for national level activities that contribute to climate change mitigation.
As part of its work to support the UNFCCC, the UNFCCC Secretariat has been requested to develop a registry of NAMAs, which is designed to compile information on NAMAs and support available. The registry therefore provides information so that projects in in search for support, including finance, are able to get it.
The design and functioning of the Green Climate Fund is still under consideration and it may take some time for this fund to be operational, so for the moment potential financing options for NAMAs are though bilateral arrangements or other international organizations.
How prominent is agriculture in NAMAs?
This depends on the country. Countries with a large industrial base tend to focus on energy, transport and industry where there are potentially bigger reductions at stake. But for many developing countries, most NAMAs would be formulated in the agriculture, forestry and land use sector. For them, this sector is the key to development. These countries are well aware of the mitigation potential of agriculture, and many African countries have recently been outspoken on this matter. Including a strong agricultural component in their NAMAs is seen as a means for directing investments into agriculture and boosting development overall.
On the other hand, for these countries, which have historically contributed very little to greenhouse gas emissions, mitigation is not the highest priority. They are more concerned about ensuring that their agricultural sector can adapt to changing conditions. They clearly see the development and implementation of NAMAs as part of a broader move toward climate-smart agriculture, one that can help them adapt to climate change and achieve broader development goals.
What are the next steps that need to be taken to support the development of NAMAs and secure international financing for climate change mitigation in agriculture?
The UNFCCC does not define any fixed steps that countries need to follow when developing or implementing NAMAs. It is up to the countries to decide how they want to proceed. That being said, there are certain elements that will certainly make NAMAs more attractive to international financing.
First, a clearly defined policy framework that indicates the structures that will support and sustain actions outlined in the NAMAs.
Second, means to provide transparency on the use and effectiveness of the resources received. Such means could be monitoring and evaluation frameworks or systems to demonstrate that investments contribute to reducing emissions. The ability to measure and report is important not only to receive finance but, more important, because it strengthens the ability of governments to implement and reach their goals.
Third, it is advisable to get the private sector on board. It’s true that this may not be appropriate for all actions. For example, for countries whose actions are focussing on smallholder farmers and improving their production in climate-smart ways, private sector involvement may be very limited. But for actions that target medium and large-scale agricultural production, integrating the private sector is seen as a good approach.
It should go without saying that to attract support, mitigation actions should be in line with broader sustainable development goals, take into account environmental concerns and address social issues, such as gender equality.
How are workshops like this one useful in UNFCCC’s work regarding NAMAs?
Workshops like these are extremely important. UNFCCC negations are very political, and we‘ve seen reaching decisions on the ground can be difficult. The UNFCCC has not yet reached agreement on the details of how NAMAs should function, so these workshops provide an essential forum where ideas about NAMAs implementation can be discussed freely without the pressures of formal negotiations. They provides space where people can come together to build an understanding of what needs to be done and allow for an exchange of information on experiences.
At this early stage, the real value is not so much technical in nature. What is so important about these workshops is that they help to identify and clarify in broad terms the next steps that need to be taken. They establish a starting point for action.
Workshop on nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs)
In July 2012, FAO and CCAFS held a workshop, 'Nationallly Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs): national mitigation planning and implementation in agriculture'. The presentations from this workshop can be found on the past events page.