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Putting agriculture on the agenda for climate talks

This policy brief, published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), makes nine recommendations for including agriculture in the international climate negotiations set to take place December 2009 in Copenhagen.

The author says that climate negotiations must take agriculture into account to meet mitigation and adaptation goals. The recommendations support climate change goals but also improve the well-being of people who manage and depend on agriculture in the developing world. They are based on three premises:

First, that much uncertainty remains about how and where climate change will impact agriculture. The author recommends funding research on these interactions to create assessments that are more useful for policymakers.

Second, that agriculture can mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The author recommends funding — and researching — cost-effective technologies and management systems, such as deep tillage and agroforestry. He also suggests funding low-cost carbon monitoring systems such as microsatellites and paying for institutional innovations that encourage mitigating behaviour in common property resources.

Third, that poor farmers will need help adapting to climate change. To this end, the author recommends a 'pro-growth, pro-poor' development agenda that includes more investment in agricultural research and extension, rural infrastructure and access to markets for small farmers. He also suggests providing funds for agricultural science and technology — especially crop and livestock research, innovative institutional mechanisms that improve agricultural water use, and efforts to collect and disseminate data on the spatial nature of agriculture over time.

Global climate negotiations offer an opportunity to combine low-cost mitigation and essential adaptation outcomes with poverty reduction, the author concludes.

Link to full policy brief from IFPRI [474kB]

This policy brief was prepared by Gerald C. Nelson, a senior research fellow at IFPRI's Environment and Production Technology division.