Climate Change

Adapting the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture to COVID-19


At the beginning of this year, the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) roadmap was on track to reach its conclusion at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) set to take place in Glasgow in November 2020. Countries were due to report back on progress made since the 2017 landmark agreement was established, and reach a conclusion on the way forward for Koronivia post-2020.

Fast-forward a few months and the world is a different place.

The COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the world has changed government priorities and deeply affected people’s lives and livelihoods, particularly women and children, and those most vulnerable.

The KJWA roadmap has also been disrupted with COP26, the world’s biggest climate change event, now taking place in 2021. Other meetings have been postponed including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting of the Subsidiary Bodies (SB52) where the KJWA workshop on livestock management (topic 2e) and the socioeconomic and food security dimensions of climate change (topic 2f) were due to take place.  

SB52 has now tentatively been moved to October 2020. The intersessional workshop on sustainable land and water management and strategies and modalities to scale up implementation has been rescheduled to take place in Bonn in the third quarter of this year (see updated roadmap).

Despite changes to the KJWA roadmap, submission dates for countries and observers remain the same so all stakeholders should continue to submit their views on remaining topics.

FAO support

Although many FAO KJWA meetings and regional workshops have been cancelled, FAO continues to promote knowledge exchange and support countries following the Koronivia process and its implementation through updated information products, webinars and a dedicated KJWA newsletter while it plans for many meetings to go online.

FAO is more committed than ever to deliver on its mandate and continue supporting its beneficiaries and member countries during this difficult time. The Organization has produced numerous information products on how COVID-19 is affecting not only food trade, food supply chains and markets but also people’s lives, livelihoods and nutrition.

FAO continues to produce policy briefs around key areas that overlap with KJWA topics such as food security and supply, nutrition, and smallholders among others. For more information on FAO and COVID-19, please look at the dedicated FAO webpage.

Adaptation is imperative

It seems like a long time ago when we asked agriculture experts from around the world what was next for the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture, but it was only September 2019. Looking towards COP 26, they said implementation and mobilization of resources were key, and that a wider network of partnerships and the involvement of women was necessary. They mentioned the importance of country-led solutions, scenario planning for the agriculture sector, and better metrics to measure climate change. One expert also said, “adaption is imperative.” Although, our world has changed since then, the objectives of the KJWA remain the same and adapting is now more important than ever.

We cannot postpone climate action because climate change is not on hold. 2020 remains critical for making progress on the climate emergency and halting biodiversity loss. The better we manage the health of our ecosystems, the better we manage human health. In this respect, the KJWA can play its part by strengthening the unique role that agriculture can play in addressing climate change while ensuring food security.

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COVID-19 does not provide a silver lining for the environment. Slight improvements in emission reductions are limited and temporary. Without fundamental shifts towards decarbonization, we have no reason to expect this temporary reduction in emissions would translate into a sustained, long-term trend. However, the ongoing crisis that we are all facing might strengthen our resolve for a more sustainable, food secure and healthy world. People are more and more interested in what decision-makers are up to and we are all accountable when it comes to the future of our Planet.

Agriculture and climate change might seem like a small part of the picture right now but they are not separate from the pandemic we are all facing. It is increasingly evident that human and planet health are linked, and that the health of our planet plays an important role in the spread of zoonotic diseases. Soils, water, livestock, climate, biodiversity, agriculture and food security are the necessary foundation for the financial and economic systems that make our world more resilient in the face of crises such as COVID-19.

Governments and people alike, all over the world, have adapted and changed. Changes have taken place that we thought were impossible not so long ago, and that gives us hope as we look ahead to another great crisis of our time, the climate crisis. The Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture can still offer many solutions.

For more information about FAO and the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture and to keep updated about ongoing activities, visit our webpage or sign up to our newsletter here.