Is Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture shaping up to be a game changer at COP27?
"FAO welcomes the progress made with Koronivia, and will continue supporting countries as they work towards defining next steps."
Eduardo Mansur, Director, FAO Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment (OCB)
Over the last two weeks, all eyes were on the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). The conference brought over 30 000 political leaders, organizations and activists from around the world together to address the growing threat of climate change and accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Can we secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach? How can we adapt to protect communities and natural habitats? Can we mobilize the necessary finance? How can we work multilaterally to rise to the challenges of the worsening climate crisis? These were some of the key questions discussed at this year’s conference.
Asking the right questions is essential, but Parties are under increasing pressure to provide urgent solutions to avoid a severe climate catastrophe in the not-so-distant future. This year, agriculture was an omnipresent theme at COP26 and it provided some much needed answers. Indeed agriculture and agri-food systems are an important part of the solution to the climate crisis and have a direct impact on better production, better nutrition, better environment, and a better life for all. Significant progress was made at the conference in finding solutions to both reduce the impact of climate change on the agriculture sector and lower the sector’s contribution to global warming.
Understanding the future of Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture: what happened at COP26?
COP26 also marked a turning point for a “little known” programme under UNFCCC – the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA), a landmark decision made at COP23 in 2017 which officially acknowledges the unique role of agriculture in tackling climate change and is the only agenda item to focus on agriculture and food security under UNFCCC. Over the last four years, its roadmap of workshops on key topics including methods for assessing adaptation (2b), soils (2c), nutrient use (2d), livestock (2e), and the socio-economic and food security dimensions of climate change across the agricultural sectors (2f) saw input from Parties, global experts, international organizations and financing entities.
At COP26, governments found significant agreement on the last three workshops of the Koronivia roadmap, which complement the conclusions already adopted on previous topics. Through a joint SBSTA-SBI Koronivia conclusion, they agreed to continue working on agriculture with a view to adopting a decision at COP 27 in 2022. Parties recognized that:
- Soil and nutrient management practices and the optimal use of nutrients lie at the core of climate-resilient, sustainable food production systems and can contribute to global food security.
- While livestock management systems are vulnerable to climate change, improving sustainable production and animal health can contribute to both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing sinks on pasture and grazing lands.
- The fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger by designing sustainable and climate-resilient agricultural systems applying a systemic approach in line with the long-term global climate objectives.
The conclusions furthermore show that KJWA has an impact on financing entities and can help to better align international organizations and processes in their work on agriculture and climate change.
The Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture COP26 conclusions further acknowledge that climate change, agriculture and food security must be addressed in a holistic manner. They also send a clear signal on the need to mobilize resources for action at the local, national and international level.
FAO: a trusted, capable and reliable partner in the international climate change arena
FAO has been taking a leading role in advocating for food security and sustainable agriculture in the face of climate change for years and has been supporting the Koronivia process producing a wealth of knowledge products in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. The Organization has also been directly involved in strengthening and facilitating country-to-country exchanges within growing regional groups supporting countries and stakeholders in their effort to be more organized and effective in the Koronivia negotiation process.
FAO welcomes the acknowledgment made to its contribution to the KJWA process in COP26 Koronivia conclusions and remains committed to supporting countries through global and regional Koronivia Dialogues and through the provision of knowledge products and tools to support these exchanges on the road to COP27 and beyond.
Onwards and upwards for agriculture
After this COP, the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture is probably better known. It has demonstrated that climate action is not an abstract concept. Climate action is sustainable soil and nutrient management, it is animal health, sustainable food production systems, and it is the exchange of knowledge between decisions makers, farmers, indigenous peoples, women and youth. But we need the mechanisms to mobilize and support action in these key areas on the ground.
Even though no decision was adopted on agriculture and the KJWA at COP26, we now have significant areas of agreement among Parties which can provide a shared platform to deliver concrete actions that benefit and strengthen the resilience of those most vulnerable, while protecting the environment we all depend on. COP27 has already been dubbed “action COP” but we will need all hands on deck to see meaningful change on the ground. FAO stands ready to support countries and people to turn agriculture into a concrete solution to the climate crisis.
For resources on climate change in the agriculture and land use sectors, please visit the FAO Climate Change Knowledge Hub (CC-Hub).
* This work is supported thanks to the contribution of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) of Japan