Climate Refugees

Agriculture, Decarbonization, and the Climate Crisis

An instrumental part of addressing the crisis of climate-induced migration is addressing the climate crisis itself. Across industry, transportation, electricity, and other economic sectors, confronting the climate crisis requires the decarbonization of energy, the democratization of ownership and distribution of energy, and the decommodification of energy (i.e., clean, renewable energy as a human right). Not without challenges, national, regional, and international organizations and actors have begun taking steps to tackle manufacturing, mining, agriculture, construction, and other parts of the industrial sector dependent upon fossil fuels and contributing to the climate crisis.

After six years of deadlock, parties at the 2017 UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) reached an agreement on agriculture—the Koronivia joint work on agriculture (KJWA), which officially acknowledges the significance of the agriculture sectors in adapting to and mitigating the climate crisis. For the precarious economies of the Global South and the millions whose livelihoods are in agricultural production, this agreement is historic. Ultimately, the Paris Agreement and the KJWA, with their emphasis on country-driven action, have provided a platform to highlight the technical and financial gaps and needs that are standing in the way of action and ambition to address climate crisis challenges in agriculture.417

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other actors at international and national level, have partnered with one another to support the development and implementation of the KJWA. Southeast Asian countries have highlighted climate crisis adaptation and mitigation in agriculture as a top priority for implementation of the Paris Agreement and their Nationally Determined Contributions. Specifically, under the banner of ASEAN, countries in the region have recognized the growing attention to agriculture under the UNFCCC, and the KJWA in particular, as a major opportunity to put forward a collective and influential voice for climate action in this crucial sector. It is with this in mind that ASEAN member states have formally established the ASEAN Negotiators Group on Agriculture. Their hope is that advancement in high-tech fields, including GPS, artificial intelligence, and global connectivity, can produce higher yields and stabilize food supply during a period of climate uncertainty.418

By mainstreaming agriculture into the UNFCCC processes, the KJWA will contribute to achieving the objectives of the convention by harnessing synergies between adaptation and mitigation in the agriculture sector. The African Group of Negotiators Expert Support team—with technical and financial support from a number of other African groups—provided critical support to work leading to the adoption of the KJWA. They did so by offering several recommendations, which were incorporated into the KJWA. These include funds set aside by the UNFCCC to support the implementation of agriculture activities, increased international cooperation and partnerships for capacity building and technology development and transfer, progress indicators, vulnerability assessments, and linkages with the FAO, International Fund For Agricultural Development, and the World Bank to create a platform that will enable efforts from these organizations to feed directly into UNFCCC processes.419

Similarly, the European Union, alongside the African Group, proposed institutionalizing the involvement of the constituted bodies within the KJWA process.