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January - March 2016

The goal of the ‘2015-Paris Climate Conference’, commonly referred to as Conferences of Parties (CoP 21), was to achieve a legally binding, international agreement to keep average global temperatures not more than 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures. After two weeks of negotiations, 190 nations of the world adopted an agreement to ‘holding the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C’. To achieve it, the nationally determined contributions for emissions reduction are recognized by the text, and although not legally binding, the deal commits all countries’ contributions to a review every 5 years with each successive contribution to be more ambitious than the last. The international political response to climate change began at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, where the ‘Rio Convention’ included the adoption of the United Nations Framework on ‘Climate Change’. This convention set out a framework for action aimed at stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.’ The United Nations Framework on ‘Climate Change’ which entered into force on 21 March 1994 now has a near universal membership of 195 parties. The main objective of the annual CoP is to review the Convention’s implementation. The first CoP took place in Berlin in 1995 and significant meetings since then have been included in CoP 3 where the Kyoto Protocol was adopted; CoP 11 where the Montreal Action Plan was produced; CoP 15 in Copenhagen where an agreement to success Kyoto Protocol was unfortunately not realized, and CoP 17 in Durban where the Green Climate Fund was created. CoP 21 held during 30 November to 11 December 2015 at Paris, France, was aimed at achieving a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. France played a leading international role in hosting CoP 21 conference. India is projected to become the most populated country by 2030 and would require to produce an additional 100 million tonne of food grains to feed the growing population in the face of climatic variability and change, growing constraints on water and land for crops and livestock.

 

Ensuring food security lies within the core objectives of the United Nations Framework on Convention on Climate Change. The recently concluded Paris Agreement has recognized the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, and the vulnerability of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change. Article 2 of Paris Agreement has been resolved to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development in a manner that does not threaten food production. Agriculture has become embedded in several strands under the United Nations Framework on Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) including Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action, Intended Nationally Determined Contributions and activities of Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice. A number of countries submitted Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMAs) and at least 30 developing countries had expressed interest in implementing agricultural NAMAs. Agricultural practices considered for Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions have focused on improved agronomic practices, carbon storage, and reduced forest conversion on agricultural land. Improved economic performance, efficiency and often climate change adaptation are potential benefits from many of these practices. The role of agriculture in supporting a secure sustainable development pathway is evident from the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted so far to the United Nations Framework on Convention on Climate Change. Agriculture is one of the largest sources of emissions in many developing countries and mitigation in the agricultural sector is also a focus of many INDCs, including some developing countries. India has envisaged reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 % by 2030 from 2005 level as part of the INDC and focus was on the adaptation aspects in agriculture. The INDCs submitted by several countries so far shows that majority has given priority to adaptation in agriculture. Notwithstanding these, REDD+ is a voluntary mechanism within the UNFCCC to provide incentives to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. It is important to highlight India’s adaptation efforts and achievement in climate resilient development of agriculture sector while discussing CoP 21. A side event ‘Scaling up Adaptation Strategies for Climate Resilient Agriculture in India’ was organized on the 5 December 2015 at the Indian Pavilion, coordinated by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, wherein, Director (CRIDA) gave an account of the available technologies for climate resilience in agriculture and briefed the audience about the climate resilient agriculture packages being implemented by the Government of India schemes. The National Council on Climate Change and Sustainable Development, through its two major presentations, one on weather advisories and other on Innovative Agricultural Extension Model in Gujarat discussed pathways for scaling up climate resilient agriculture models through nationally driven integrated development initiatives. The side event brought together India’s policy makers, scientists and civil society organizations to share successful highlights of technology innovation and adoption, capacity building, knowledge dissemination, community driven approaches and enabling policy environment. In the discussions, India’s strategy to achieve its national commitments for climate resilient development in the agriculture sector primarily through nationally driven programmes and policies was highlighted. While CoP 21 illustrated the potential of scientific solutions to climate change, challange of translating the scientific solutions to action at a scale where extension and advisory services have to play a major role is to be developed. I am convinced that the Extension and Advisory Services (EAS) have a major role in organizing farmers to adopt measures aimed at adaptation to climate change and communicating climate advisory to farmers. In fact, the whole adaptation at the ground level is fully dependent on extension and there is a need to enhance the capacities of extension personnel and of farmers in this area. At the same time, there is a need to learn from the successful experiences of different countries and different actors in implementing adaptation measures and this should feed into the training of extension staff. It is time that we seriously review and strengthen the capacity development efforts in the area of climate change adaptation, perhaps it needs focus on developing training modules for the purpose. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research, and Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare are all set to move forward by strengthening research and development on climate resilient agriculture to minimize risks to farmers and reduce the impacts of year-to-year climate variability on food production at national level.

The outputs of strategic research and technology demonstration components of the National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) are being mainstreamed into the ‘National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture’ and converged with significant missions like water mission and other government programmes to contribute to the overall national goal of sustainable agriculture in the context of changing climate. Though major focus of agriculture sector is towards adaptation of agriculture systems to climate change and weather aberrations/extreme climatic events; benefits derived from various adaptation technologies implemented for food security will also contribute significantly in mitigating the greenhouse gas emissions (as win-win situations), thus agriculture sector is an important component in the overall goals set up by the Government of India in meeting the adaptation and mitigation targets. Various programmes of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, are in tune with Article 2 of CoP 21 Agreement to strengthen the adaptive capacity of agriculture sector to weather aberrations and extreme climatic events in order to bring the resilience to agriculture with low greenhouse gas emissions and for country’s food and nutritional security. Nonetheless, a constant and systematic review process is essential to ensure the ground level implementation of these programmes by regular interaction with state machinery, to ensure a science led development process to triumph.

(T. Mohapatra)