Climate Change

Working with UNEP to deliver COP21 commitments


The newly appointed Assistant Director-General of the Department of Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water, René Castro and Martin Frick, Director of the Climate and Environment Division met the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Executive Director, Erik Solheim to assess ways to enhance the implementation of their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

This MoU, signed last year paves the way for both organizations to work together on the linkages between conservation, production, the sustainable use of natural resources, climate change and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Working together

“There’s a lot we can achieve together because we have so many common issues we can fight for,” said Erik Solheim. The meeting was a chance to explore possible areas for collaboration including promotion of the recent Global Framework on Water Scarcity. The two organizations also discussed working together on the design and dissemination of tools giving small holder farmers in developing countries access to “big data” solutions to enhance food production.

UNEP is expected to participate in the upcoming Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon at FAO Headquarters from the 21-23 March. It is being organized by FAO together with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Their expertise could be valuable in assisting countries to produce regularly updated national soil maps.

FAO Assistant Director-General, René Castro stressed how UNEP is and will be important in reinforcing the environmental dimension of FAO’s work on sustainable agriculture and natural resources in the fight against climate change.

Other areas in which the two organizations could collaborate include helping countries to address climate change through their Nationally Determined Contributions, including compliance with the enhanced transparency framework of the Paris Agreement. This could include developing the capacity of stakeholders working on national Greenhouse gas inventories and farmers using climate-smart agriculture practices.

Through the Global Peatlands Initiative, FAO and UNEP are already encouraging action on major national emission reductions by focusing on peatlands as mitigation hotspots.

Erik Solheim described how FAO with its agriculture expertise and UNEP with its knowledge of the environment should also focus on the energy sector, developing agricultural activities that have less impact on the environment. The support would benefit FAO’s current work on a methodology to assess the costs and benefits of introducing renewable energy in selected food chains. It could also help in assessments of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus status at both territorial and intervention level. 

Having already worked with FAO in the development of the Bioenergy Decision Support tool, UNEP could also help promote FAO’s Bioenergy toolkit. The toolkit supports governments and operators from ex-ante appraisal to risk management through monitoring and evaluation, both at project and national level.