Webinar: Communicating the Impacts of Climate Change on Food and Agriculture

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EJN, CGIAR, CIAT, Global

What problems currently impact food production? How can agricultural activities result in lower greenhouse gas emissions while also being productive enough to feed a growing global population? These questions and more are discussed during three webinars aimed at helping journalists from around the world better cover how climate change affects agriculture and food systems.

Each webinar focuses on specific issues in one of three regions -- Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Asia – with each session offering participants the opportunity to hear from leading scientific experts in their area and learn new tools to better cover the challenges facing the agricultural sector.

The 90-minute webinars are hosted by Internews' Earth Journalism Network (EJN) in partnership with the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security program at the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers, or CGIAR, and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

Watch videos of each session below and read through the highlights to learn more.

LATIN AMERICA

This webinar explores deforestation trends in the region and explains the impact of land-use changes on the global climate.

For example, the level of greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector in Latin America shot up from 390 million tonnes in 1960 to more than 900 million tonnes in 2010, says Ana María Loboguerrero, head of policy research for CCAFS. 

That means the challenge for the future will be ensuring agriculture expands to meet the needs of a growing population while also not increasing emissions, she says.

Alongside agriculture, mining and deforestation account for most of the emissions from land-use change in Latin America, notes Louis Verchot, a landscape restoration expert at CIAT. During the webinar, he focuses on a special report on land-use from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and explains that both scientists and politicians want more information on this issue due to the significant emissions that come from the sector.

EJN’s Fermín Koop guides the session to help journalists contextualize the issues in their reporting.

AFRICA

This webinar generated significant interest from participants on climate-change adaptation, innovation, and environmental policy issues.

Moderated by David Akana, managing editor for GeoJournalism site InfoCongo, and assisted by Michael Simire, editor of EnviroNews Nigeria, the webinar features experts Evan Girvetz, senior scientist at CIAT’s Kenya office, and Solomon Dawit, regional program leader at CCFAS. 

The experts highlight tools that journalists can use to help better convey how climate change and agriculture are intricately linked, and thus how the issues can be better reported. They also point to some of the latest advances helping agriculture become more resilient, more productive and less of a burden on the environment. 

Examples include new climate-smart crop varieties that adapt to the changing climate as well as weather services that help farmers adjust to unpredictable rainfall patterns. Girvetz and Dawit speak about these innovations during the webinar and discuss how technology and science-based solutions can help improve livelihoods and strengthen the resilience of climate-change affected communities across Africa and by enhancing environmentally friendly agriculture practices.

While adapting to climate change is important, the experts say journalists should also seek to understand mitigation as it is critical for African countries. They point to the work they are doing at country-level for story leads and contacts. 

ASIA

In this webinar, moderated by EJN’s South Asia content coordinator Ramesh Bhushal, Godefroy Grosjean, who leads the Climate Policy Hub at CCAFS, and Leocadio Sebastian, CCAFS’s Southeast Asia Regional Program Leader, discuss problems and offer potential solutions for agriculture in Asia.

Leocadio begins by providing an overview of the climate vulnerability of the Asian region, especially Southeast Asia, and highlights the import role farming plays in ensuring food and nutritional security for its people. He then shares some of the initiatives taking place in the region that utilize technology to help local farmers cope with climate change impacts. 

As with experts in other sessions, Godefroy delves into climate-smart agriculture, defining it as agricultural practices that increase productivity and resilience to climatic shifts while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There are more than 1,700 CSA practices documented across 30 countries, he says, most of which are based around one of five categories: water management, intercropping, crop tolerance to stress, organic farming and agricultural conservation.

The webinar also includes examples of specific CSA practices being used in the region and emphasizes the importance of mapping risks and using data to help farmers identify adaptive practices, such as changing the types of crops they grow.