A strong Solutions from the Land delegation will be in Glasgow, Scotland, for the latest round of UN-staged, global climate negotiations. The 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is being hosted by the United Kingdom and is set to start Sunday and extend through November 12. The negotiations are said by many – including UN leaders – to be the single most important factor in determining whether humanity suffers the worst consequences of climate change.
SfL’s COP 26 delegation set to attend the first week of the two-week event are board Co-Chairmen Fred Yoder, an Ohio corn and soybean grower, and A.G. Kawamura, a California produce grower and shipper; board member Lois Wright Morton, an Iowa specialty crop grower and former professor of rural sociology at Iowa State University; and SfL President Ernie Shea. Representing SfL during the second week of COP 26 will be board members Pat O’Toole and Ray Gaesser, and O’Toole’s wife, Sharon, who will serve as the delegation’s media representative. Board member Howard-Yana Shapiro, who is globally recognized in the scientific and UN communities, will be attending both weeks of the negotiations.
While in Glasgow, the SfL delegation will interact with member state representatives, other farmer organizations and a wide cross-section of business, academic, conservation, environmental, renewable energy and health and nutrition stakeholders. Discussions with these parties will focus on pathways to address growing climate change challenges across the globe.
As it has done at other global conferences in recent years, the SfL delegation will seek to strengthen support of Climate Smart Agriculture and to build a coalition that will embrace a systems approach to meeting climate and food security challenges. The approach advocated by our delegates will be one that respects the tremendous diversity of agricultural landscapes and ecosystems across the world.
As emphasized in this space earlier this month, SfL farmer leaders know that to reach the interconnected goals of economic viability, sustainable production, clean water, increased soil organic matter, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, farmers need production systems that work for them under their specific conditions, location and other factors. No one method will get the complex job done. It will require a whole arsenal of inter-related systems and practices building on one another.
Maintaining the call for an approach of wide-ranging but interrelated solutions will be important in the face of the European Union and others in Glasgow who will be advocating a top-down strategy to address global challenges. Designated by its advocates as “Farm-to-Fork,” it’s a policy slant that foregoes the flexibility needed to attain the many goals otherwise available to agriculture. The “siloed” approach advocated by the EU negotiators and their allies also negates a critical principle advocated by SfL as necessary to the success of any agriculture-based climate solution – robust farmer input.
Farmers must be at the center of all discussions and decision-making, a point made paramount by its listing as first among the SfL’s Guiding Principles. Producers can offer the significant input needed from across a wide range of agricultural interests and organizations that fall outside of typical policymaking structures to address climate challenges.
Taking on climate change from the ground up is at the core of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) to be launched in Glasgow. The plan from the United States and the United Arab Emirates has been endorsed by the United Kingdom’s COP 26 Presidency and supported by Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Singapore, Uruguay and other nations. The goal of AIM for Climate is to increase and accelerate global innovation research and development (R&D) in agriculture and food systems in support of climate action.
The innovation and R&D areas targeted through the initiative will include sustainable productivity improvements; land, water, carbon and other input use efficiency; resilient crop and livestock production; enhanced digital tools; and inclusive, equitable and sustainable food systems.
AIM for Climate builds upon the USDA’s Coalition for Sustainable Productivity Growth for Food Security and Resource Conservation (the SPG Coalition), which includes SfL among its founding member organizations. SfL and its leadership welcome the opportunity to represent farmers, ranchers and forestland owners on the world stage. It is a responsibility that our delegation takes to heart, working to insure those who work the land have a full voice and are able to provide – and optimize – the solutions that agriculture has to offer.