Negotiations on agriculture under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) have been bogged down in technicalities for years. Following its recent meeting, however, a “landmark” decision was proposed to, and adopted by, the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23).
The COP decision calls on SBSTA and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) to “…jointly address issues related to agriculture, including through workshops and expert meetings, working with constituted bodies under the Convention and taking into consideration the vulnerabilities of agriculture to climate change and approaches to addressing food security". Parties and observers were also invited to submit their views on elements that should be included in this work by the end of March 2018, including on modalities for implementing the outcomes of the five in-session workshops that were carried out following a SBSTA request in June 2014 (see news item on “Second OCP/ecbi Climate and Agriculture Seminar”, Sept. 2017).
As a result, implementation-related aspects of agriculture will also be dealt with in future (including 'means of implementation', such as finance) in addition to scientific and technological elements.
OCP/ecbi is honoured to have a role in this breakthrough. Two Ad-hoc Seminars organised by us, in Oxford in May 2017, and in Bad Godesberg in September 2017, are credited with furthering the discussions and building trust between parties in the following testimonials from negotiators who participated in the workshops:
- “… all through the process here at COP 23, I felt the Bad Godesberg spirit. Without that seminar, we would not have achieved this.”
- “…the support provided through the OCP/ecbi seminars were of crucial importance. I clearly saw a big difference in the level of discussions. The two meetings helped us to build bridges and have a better understanding of the positions of other parties.”
- “I would also like to thank you for your support and for providing us with a place to communicate outside the official SBSTA session. Let us continue to meet in this setting also in the future if possible! I personally think it helps us a lot so we can think a bit outside the usual boxes.”
- “I just wanted to express my thanks and gratitude for the support we have had in the last 12 months on the journey to getting this agriculture outcome. I hope we will be able to get together once again before SBSTA with your continued support to discuss the next steps, which are the detail and process of a work programme. This is fundamental to helping us really set aside differences and think outside of the box for moving this forward quickly, and in a fair, transparent and robust manner. These are exciting times.”
- “… the initiative of Prof. Müller had given us a platform where the key negotiators agreed to have progress in agriculture. This contributed to flexibility that resulted to the COP decision on agriculture.”
- “We have made an important advance in the UNFCCC negotiations regarding agriculture, and I'm glad I could count on the able as well as enabling views offered by you during the two OCP/ecbi agriculture seminars.”
- “I'm very happy about the result we had too. Thanks a lot for organising the seminars in Oxford and Bonn which were key to improve the level of discussion and build trust among us. The result talks by itself!”
- “Thank you very much for the support, for trusting that this group would be able to achieve such an outcome and for giving us a much more relaxed atmosphere to talk in an open manner.”