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A picture shows a view of an installation at the Green Zone during the COP27 climate summit at the Sharm El Sheikh International Convention Centre, in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of the same name, on Monday– AFP Photo
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

350m Family Farmers Seek Climate Adaptation Support at COP27

In an open letter to world leaders at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) on Monday, the farmers also asked governments to promote a shift to more diverse, low-input agriculture.

The global conference kicked off in Egypt today with 90 heads of state meeting to discuss food security and climate finance, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the UN. 

Over 70 networks and organizations representing farmers, fishers, pastoralists, and forest producers have signed the letter including the World Rural Forum, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Development, and national organizations from Jordan, the UK and India. 

A food system for a hot planet

The letter warns that the ‘global food system is ill-equipped to deal with the impacts of climate change, even if global heating is limited to 1.5C’ and ‘building a food system that can feed the world on a hot planet’ must be a priority for COP27. 

According to FAO, small-scale producers are critical for global food security, producing as much as 80% of the food consumed in regions such as Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Yet they accounted for only 1.7% of climate finance flows in 2018 – just $10 billion compared to the estimated $240 billion a year needed to help them adapt to climate change.

At the Glasgow climate summit in 2021, wealthy nations agreed to double overall funding for adaptation to $40 billion a year by 2025 – still only a fraction of what is required.

Elizabeth Nsimadala, president of Eastern Africa Farmers Federation, which is a signatory to the letter, said, “The producers in our networks feed millions of people and support hundreds of thousands of jobs but they have reached a breaking point. There needs to be a massive boost in climate finance to ensure small-scale producers have the information, resources and training necessary to continue feeding the world for generations to come.”  

This year’s UN Climate Change Conference is taking place in the middle of a global food price crisis.

While there is not yet a global food shortage, extreme drought, floods and heat have damaged harvests across the globe and scientists have warned of an increased risk of simultaneous crop failures in the world’s major breadbaskets.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said a shift to more diverse, low-input food systems is key to maintaining food security in a changing climate.

Ma Estrella Penunia, secretary general of the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development, said, “$611 billion is spent subsidizing food production every year – much of it on industrial, chemical-intensive agriculture that is harmful to people and the environment. This cannot continue. Leaders must listen to farmers and put their political weight and financial muscle behind a shift to more diverse, sustainable and empowering food production - especially agroecological farming, fishing, forestry, herding and pastoralism.”

Signatories to the letter also said food and agriculture are largely overlooked in climate negotiations despite being responsible for 34% of emissions, the majority of which come from industrial agriculture.  

Laura Lorenzo, director of the World Rural Forum, said, “Small-scale family farmers need a seat at the table and a say in the decisions that affect us – from secure access to land and tenure, to accessing finance – if we are to rebuild our broken food system.”

This story was produced as part of the 2022 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security. It was first published by The Business Post on 8 November and has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Banner image: A picture shows a view of an installation at the Green Zone during the COP27 climate summit at the Sharm El Sheikh International Convention Centre, in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of the same name, on Monday / Credit: AFP Photo.