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COP 27: an opportunity and a framework for Latin America and the Caribbean to advance towards more productive, resilient and low-carbon agriculture

Walter Oyhantçabal, experto en políticas de cambio climático como en el complejo mundo de las negociaciones internacionales que se han desarrollado en los últimos años para permitir los necesarios cambios en los modos de producción.
Walter Oyhantçabal, advisor to IICA on climate change policies and international negotiations.

SAN JOSE, 20 September 2022 (IICA) - The upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27), to be held in November in Egypt, will provide a valuable opportunity for countries of the Americas to showcase the progress achieved by their agriculture sector from an environmental standpoint, as well as share their needs to drive changes aimed at achieving greater sustainability, resilience and mutual benefits with respect to mitigation.
This was noted by Walter Oyhantçabal, who specializes in climate change policies and in the complex world of international negotiations that have taken place in recent years to drive necessary changes in production methods.
For more than 20 years, Oyhantçabal served as the Coordinator of the Sustainability and Climate Change Unit of the Ministry of Livestock and Agriculture of Uruguay. An agricultural engineer with a Master’s degree in Environmental Sciences, Oyhantçabal is an international specialist in greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories in the agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) sector. He formed part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007 and 2019 and is currently an advisor to IICA.
The expert indicated that the upcoming COP in Egypt will place special emphasis on agriculture. Therefore, the event will hold great significance for the Latin American and Caribbean region, which accounts for a high percentage of global agrifood trade and is a guarantor of global food and nutritional security.
“Given its unique vulnerability to climate change and its close relationship with food security, agriculture, unlike any other sector, has its own agenda item in the Climate Change Convention. This represents a tremendous opportunity. Since 2017, a work program called the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture has been underway. The program seeks to reduce vulnerability to climate change as well as protect food security and the livelihoods of billions of people while preserving natural resources, contributing to GHG mitigation and increasing productivity”, explained Oyhantçabal.
The global meeting in Egypt will provide an ideal opportunity for countries of the region to reach a political decision that would allow for mobilizing the necessary means of implementing agricultural transformations, particularly in developing countries.
These means of implementation are related to three key areas: funding, capacity building, and technology transfer and development for ambitious climate action.
“Only by unlocking and scaling up means of implementation can developing countries establish more ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation targets. GHG mitigation targets are included in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which can also include climate change adaptation targets. It is worth noting that adaptation is very costly for countries in our region, which must face the consequences of global warming—caused primarily by developed nations. That is why the Paris Agreement takes up the important principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, taking into account respective capabilities. This was already included in the text of the 1992 Framework Convention”, indicated Oyhantçabal.
The Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture recognizes the fundamental priority of adapting agricultural systems to protect livelihoods, countries’ economies and food security.
Work carried out up to 2021 included workshops on relevant topics as soil, manure and nutrient management; sustainable livestock farming; methods for evaluating adaptation; as well as the dimensions of climate change related to socio-economic development.
Koronivia now faces the major challenge of implementing the results of these technical workshops to enhance climate action. To this end, however, COP 27 must result in a political decision to create an institutional environment under the Convention that can improve coordination and provide increasing volumes of technical and financial resources.
“Funding must be increased. Developed countries, which pledged to provide USD 100 billion a year in assistance starting in 2020, must fulfill their promise, as was highlighted at COP 26 in Glasgow”, noted Oyhantçabal.
“Our region is undertaking valuable efforts to make food production more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable, and we are making improvements. To continue on this path, however, we need means of implementation to be provided by the Convention, through its different bodies and Funds”, he added.
COP 27 will be a great sounding board for agriculture. With this in mind, IICA, together with its Member States, as well as producer organizations and other agricultural stakeholders from across the region, will set up a pavilion called the Home of Sustainable Agriculture in the Americas, with the slogan “Feeding the World, Nurturing the Planet”.
This space will host around 60 high-level political and technical events over the two weeks of COP 27, and will share good practices, experiences and lessons learned in the Americas in direct seeding, the implementation of agrosilvopastoral production systems and better management of pastures, among other topics.
According to the Uruguayan expert, Latin American countries must build monitoring systems that provide a solid foundation for estimating the soil’s function as a carbon sink and for improving the quality of their sectoral GHG inventories.
In this regard, because it is carried out outdoors and depends on climate and biological factors, agriculture is highly vulnerable to and more heavily impacted by climate change, compared to other sectors. As noted by the IPCC, the effects of climate change will be much graver if global warming were to exceed pre-industrial levels by more than 2° C.
“The impact on agriculture in developing countries is markedly disproportionate to its contribution to total global GHG emissions. Compared to fossil fuels, agriculture is a minimal source of GHGs. That is clear”, said Oyhantçabal.
The expert also pointed out that contributions in means of implementation must take into account the key importance of adaptation, support mitigation, as well as recognize the broad diversity of production systems and the need for sustainable development in countries.

More information:
Institutional Communication Division.