Farmers Represented at Global Climate Workshop

December 3, 2020

Lois Wright Morton, an Ohio specialty crop farmer and a member of the SfL Board of Directors, this week delivered a powerful message to global negotiators, affirming agriculture’s role in addressing a changing climate as well detailing what the sector needs to mitigate the growing threats to food security.

Morton was the only farmer to present at Tuesday and Wednesday’s United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) workshop on the socioeconomic and food security dimensions of climate change in the agricultural sector.

The 11-hour workshop was held under the auspices of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA), a 2017 landmark policy agreement reached among global parties that calls on climate negotiators to address issues related to agriculture, taking into consideration the vulnerabilities of agriculture to climate change and approaches to addressing food security.

The climate dialogues, an all-virtual series of events that began last week, are being held in place of the in-person, annual Conference of the Parties (COP) global negotiation session, and are running through tomorrow.

The dialogues are taking place as the UNFCC nears the fifth anniversary (Dec. 15) of the Paris Climate Agreement, a pact among nations to drop carbon emissions and hold the rise in global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Centigrade by the end of this century. President Trump announced in June 2017 his plan to leave the agreement, a departure that was finalized Nov. 4, 2020 and put the nation on the sidelines with seven nations that have refused to sign the pact, including Iran, Iraq, Libya and Turkey. President-elect Joe Biden has said his administration will return the United States to the other 189 nations that have signed off on the agreement.

The workshop included presentations from “expert” keynoters and representatives from countries around the globe, as well as from a dozen or more observer bodies, including SfL’s Morton. She used the opportunity to explain to her audience what matters to farmers and why they offer strong solutions to climate issues that impact global food security.

Morton, presenting on behalf of SfL and the UNFCCC farmer constituency, outlined Tuesday three key social-economic outcomes that farmers are essential partners in accomplishing:

  • Reduce hunger and improve nutrition by supporting research and production of fruits, vegetables, animal proteins, and food-grade grains for human consumption;
  • Create jobs and generate quality rural livelihoods and economic growth by diversification and sustainable agricultural intensification production systems, processing, and distribution of agricultural products; and
  • Ensure the integrity of soil, water, forests and other ecosystems’ resources as they are essential to agriculture, healthy food production, societal well-being, and a resilient earth.

“Climate adaptation and farmer financial security are critical if we are to move farmers beyond subsistence livelihoods and achieve food security and nutrition for all,” she said.

In her closing intervention on Wednesday, Morton, who is Professor Emeritus with the Department of Sociology at Iowa State University, emphasized to other workshop participants the need to do more than tell farmers how to farm.

“There are many on the outside looking in offering advice to farmers without acknowledging the complexities, risks and uncertainties we face in producing the food and ecosystem services that benefit us all, and still make a living for our families,” she said.

Morton cautioned those who are unfamiliar with the hard work farmers must put in to manage the complexities, risks and uncertainties that are daily events, not to become too obsessed with a singular, agroecological approach. Instead, negotiators must be open a variety approaches that can solve the climate and food security issues the world is currently facing.

“The COVID pandemic has showed us that we need all kinds of innovations and diversity of production systems and practices in order to give farmers capacity to deal with the uncertainties that changing climate, volatile markets, and health and social conditions bring,” she said.

This week’s presentation from Morton underscores why SfL’s active participation in the global forums is so important. The world is run by those who show up with compelling messages and this week, that was Morton and SfL.

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