19 November 2021
COP 26 Events Show Climate Ties to Locust Upsurge, Adaptation in Agriculture
Photo Credit: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security
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Speakers said the current global food system destroys natural ecosystems, contributes around a quarter of global emissions, and is failing to achieve zero hunger.

Threats posed by the ongoing upsurge in desert locusts, including to food security and livelihoods, especially in the Horn of Africa, could lead to further suffering, displacement, and potential conflict.

The side events took place during the Glasgow Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 26).

Agroecology and locusts were highlighted at two side events held during the Glasgow Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 26). The Conference convened in Glasgow, UK from 31 October to 13 November 2021. An event titled Agroecology: Ecosystem-Based Adaptation in Agriculture presented agroecology as part of ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) for transformational changes in food systems, and emphasized strategic opportunities for joint programmes and strategies among the agriculture and climate change communities. Participants agreed that:

  • the current global food system destroys natural ecosystems, contributes around a quarter of global  emissions, and is failing to achieve zero hunger;
  • systemic responses are necessary to address the systemic challenges posed by climate change, EbA, and agroecology;
  • up-scaling should be viewed as creating an enabling environment for EbA and agroecology, which involves addressing rural development challenges, such as land tenure security, community empowerment, and inclusive service delivery; and
  • new metrics for internalizing negative externalities of agriculture are needed, as are new valuation techniques to account for positive externalities.

Jes Weigelt, TMG Research gGmbH, summarized the key messages of the TMG-ICRAF white paper on Ecosystem-based Adaptation in Agriculture, calling for the agroecology and EbA communities to jointly build on their common principles, policies, and strategies to address political and structural issues surrounding rural development. 

Country presentations focused on:

  • Bolivia’s legal framework, which declares agroecology a national interest, addresses administrative mechanisms for fostering agroecology, and strengthens indigenous approaches;
  • Challenges in Bolivia, including too much support for industrial agriculture and insufficient support for agroecology, limited opportunities for realizing non-monetary benefits, and discriminatory market approaches;
  • Kenya’s climate-smart agriculture, which addresses farmers’ basic needs, especially of women, who comprise 65% of agricultural labor; and
  • Andhra Pradesh Community Managed Natural Farming in India, which has resulted in decreased farming costs, increased yields and returns, savings in water and energy, and where farmers pay approximately USD 200 upfront with returns sometimes 20 times that.

A representative from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), highlighted the need to: mainstream agroecology in national and subnational policies as a precondition for financing; remove the 90% of food system subsidies that give perverse incentives; coordinate policies for financing streams to shift to nature-positive investments and ODA financing; and de-risk investment for the private sector and create good revenue for agroecological farmers.

This event was organized by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), in partnership with TMG, and CIFOR-ICRAF.
Another event on Understanding the Interconnectedness Between the Ongoing Desert Locust Crisis 2019-2021+ and the Climate Crisis, discussed threats posed by the ongoing upsurge in desert locusts, including to food security and livelihoods, especially in the Horn of Africa, which could lead to further suffering, displacement, and potential conflict.
Key messages from the event included the need for:

  • Integrating prevention and management of transboundary pests and diseases into climate change adaptation and governance;
  • Understanding the true costs associated with the desert locust crisis, including the negative impacts toxic pesticide use, which could harm human health and biodiversity, including pollinators and wildlife; and
  • An innovative early warning system and development of biocontrol options to benefit small holders, vulnerable people, and the environment.

On prevention efforts in East Africa, speakers highlighted: the need for collaborative research and participatory mechanisms in decision making; an ecological niche model for predicting breeding sites of desert locusts; and the need for consistent financing of monitoring systems and early control mechanisms without using hazardous pesticides. 

Alexander Müller, Founder and Managing Director, TMG, stressed: that the desert locust crisis is intrinsically linked to global climate change; action against pests and diseases must be integrated in adaptation efforts; and the need for a robust risk management mechanism, with guidelines in place and proactive institutions. 

The event was co-organized by TMG, the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and others. [ENB coverage of side events at COP 26]

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