File photo of the Paris climate conference from December 2015. Development and Peace said the the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Marrakech, which concluded Nov. 18, failed to address the needs of small farmers. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of States, Wikimedia Commons

U.N. climate conference misses mark for small farmers, says D&P

By 
  • November 23, 2016

OTTAWA – The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Marrakech failed to address the needs of small farmers, said a representative from the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.

China and other developing countries refused to negotiate on anything regarding the mitigation of climate change through reducing emissions unless Canada, the United States, the EU, Australia and New Zealand increased their funding to help countries adapt to climate change, said Genevieve Talbot, advocacy officer for Development and Peace, in an email interview from Marrakech.

“There are a lot of politics around financing and mitigating,” she said.

Talbot called this a “worrisome” development because agriculture is one area greatly impacted by climate change. Agriculture can play an important role in reducing emissions, she said, so there was a hope that nations would find a compromise “but unfortunately not.”

“These kinds of political games have stalled negotiations on agriculture, for example, where an agreement could not be reached on what can be done,” she said.

Developed countries favour larger-scale agro-business models which Talbot said “would kill local agriculture and small scale family production in the Global South.”

“So the decision was to postpone the negotiations until the inter-session in Bonn in May 2017.”

On Nov. 16, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced $1.8 billion in funding “to mobilize private-sector support for developing countries’ efforts to transition to cleaner, more sustainable economies.”

The funds will support clean technology, climate-smart agriculture, sustainable forestry and climate-resilient infrastructure, the government release said.

“Canada will deliver this support through a range of trusted partners, including multilateral development banks, with demonstrated expertise in innovative finance solutions to address climate change.”

The money was part of Canada’s previous $2.65 billion pledge to help countries “pollute less, be better equipped to resist the effects of climate change and make a positive contribution to the global clean economy,” according to the news release.

Talbot said Development and Peace’s current ecological justice campaign is asking the Canadian government to devote half of its $2.65 billion pledge to projects that would help small farmers by “defending safe access to land for small family farmers, supporting agricultural practices that are good for the land such as agroecology, and ensuring farmers have a voice in political decisions that affect them.”

“What we would like to see is investment in climate-resilient agricultural projects,”  Talbot said. “To be efficient, these funds must be disbursed through flexible financial mechanisms, not only through large multilateral platforms or banks.

“Working with NGOs and other civil society organizations would definitely contribute to making sure that this funding is reaching communities and having a real impact on the day-to-day life of the most vulnerable people,” she said.

Development and Peace and its partners could offer expertise in addressing climate resilient agriculture, Talbot said.

“We could, for example, support the recovery of Haiti through that kind of funding,” she said.

On Nov. 19, Bibeau announced $54 million to support humanitarian and development projects in Haiti, including $2.65 million humanitarian assistance, $1.4 million to support the election, and $50 million towards projects to strengthen agriculture.

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