COP27 and the theme of agricultural sustainability

World leaders discuss action to tackle climate change at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt, with agriculture and food taking center stage this year as global food systems and vulnerable populations are challenged. facing increasing risks posed by climate change.

In today’s era of looming climate challenges, sustainable agriculture is a vital topic in any discussion, not to mention the COP, which stands for “Conference of the Parties”. Parties are participating countries that signed the original UN climate agreement in 1992. COPs are held by the UN each year, for governments to agree on measures to limit temperature rise world.

While the agriculture and food sector is deeply impacted by climate change, it also contributes around a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, from production to consumption. Much of the emissions come from large-scale commercial farming and processing and, as you can imagine, most climate finance also goes to large-scale commercial farming, mainly in the west. According to Climate Champions, while the world’s smallholder farmers produce around a third of the world’s food, only 1.5% of global climate finance ($10 billion) is currently channeled to small-scale agriculture, and only 7% (USD 700 million) goes to value chain actors such as smallholder farmers.

Over the years, businesses and individuals have contributed to environmental degradation and global warming, primarily by burning fossil fuels. Conscious efforts are now being made to reduce the level of negative impact on the environment. This involves the use of renewable energies, sustainable architecture, waste management, etc. Agricultural and even environmental sustainability questions the human actions that have caused problems such as deforestation and pollution. He continually seeks to create measured decisions and actions that will reduce the negative impacts we have on the environment. Sustainability covers many fields and disciplines in its stand to address all economic, social, technological and institutional aspects related to environmental challenges. Governments and organizations such as the United Nations are constantly developing policies and laws regarding environmental sustainability.

Businesses, including agribusinesses through their businesses, play the most significant roles in escalating climate change and must vehemently explore sustainability to improve the long-term impact they have on the planet. . This is why many have devised new ways of using natural resources such as land, agricultural products and energy. In terms of energy, most companies are turning to renewable energies as opposed to fossil fuels which seriously threaten the environment. Moreover, the long-term maintenance of this awareness is necessary to validate decisions and actions regarding environmental sustainability. Thus, ways are devised to make production and other business processes completely sustainable.

Experts agree that sustainability is a process that shows development in all aspects of human life that affect sustenance. This unquestionably involves resolving the conflict between the various competing objectives and involves the simultaneous pursuit of economic prosperity, environmental quality and social equity. It is therefore a constantly evolving process. The activities involved in achieving sustainability are therefore very vital as the only vehicles to achieve this.

In other words, sustainability is the process of ensuring that current processes of interaction with the environment are continued with the idea of ​​keeping the environment as pristine as possible. Thus, environmental sustainability requires society to design activities to meet human needs while preserving the planet’s life support systems indefinitely. This involves, for example, using water sustainably, using only renewable energy and sustainable material supplies (e.g. harvesting wood from forests at a rate that preserves biomass and biodiversity ).

There may be a case of an “unsustainable situation” when the sum total of nature’s resources is depleted faster than it can be replenished. Sustainability requires human activity to use nature’s resources only at a rate at which they can be replenished naturally. The concept of sustainable development is intrinsically linked to the concept of carrying capacity. Theoretically, the long-term result of environmental degradation is the inability to sustain human life. Such degradation on a global scale could imply the extinction of humanity, and the purpose of agriculture is to preserve humanity and the planet.

As smallholder farmers struggle to adapt to the often staggering impacts of climate change in Africa, one of my greatest concerns is Africa’s ability to fund the timely innovation needed to protect its vulnerable communities and the continental food security. Donor funding has proven essential in the public sector to build the economic infrastructure that helps farmers and agribusinesses produce and process food, but how can we also ensure that there is funding for R&D and innovation in the private sector, especially for start-ups and other agribusinesses in Africa? How can we get much-needed climate finance through, for example, carbon markets to finance smallholder farmers and nature-based solutions in Nigeria?

This is why I am delighted to hear about the launch of Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation (FAST) by the COP27 Presidency, to improve the quantity and quality of climate finance contributions to transform agriculture and food systems by 2030, supporting adaptation and maintaining a 1.5 degree pathway while supporting food and economic security. This multi-stakeholder cooperation program will have concrete deliverables to build country capacity to access climate finance and investment, increase knowledge, and provide policy support and dialogue. I hope Nigeria can use this initiative and many others to tap into global climate finance for its smallholder farmers who are experiencing the effects of climate change.

Jessica C. Bell