On June 30, a delegation of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) joined the African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) Ministers of Agriculture, along with representatives from various international organizations, for the 5th AU-EU Agriculture Ministerial Conference held at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) premises in Rome.
The WFO delegation included the Board Member Ms Kati Partanen, as the representative for the European Constituency; Ms Josiane Irakarama from the WFO Rwandan Member Organisation INGABO; Mr Juha Ruippo, Director of International Affairs at MTK; Ms Cristina Chirico, Facilitator of the WFO Working Group on Food Security and Head of International Office at CIA-Agricoltori Italiani; Mr Enrico Parisi, a young farmer from Coldiretti Giovani. The WFO Secretary General Arianna Giuliodori, the Advocacy, Policy and Partnerships Practice Leader Luisa Volpe, and the Engagement Manager Ambra Raggi were accompanying them.
Under the theme of “Resilient food systems and sustainable agri value chains,” the conference featured four high-level thematic sessions, side events, and a ministerial plenary session.
During the conference, Kati Partanen delivered a powerful speech on behalf of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) during the thematic session focused on the Climate resilience of agri-food systems.
Ms Partanen started by underlying that agriculture is on the frontline of climate impacts, playing the unique role of being both a source and sink of GHG emissions.
Agriculture and its people are central to delivering the Paris Agreement’s goals: “Farmers’ participation in this process is instrumental in raising global climate ambition for our sector”, – she stated – “unleashing the great potential that agriculture and its people have in the fight against climate change and empowering the world’s farmers to adapt to its ongoing impacts.”
The WFO Board Member also highlighted the valuable exchange of ideas, experiences, and needs that occurred during the recent WFO General Assembly in South Africa in May 2023. With over 350 farmers and stakeholders from more than 70 countries in attendance, the assembly facilitated meaningful discussions on important agricultural topics, including Climate-Smart Agriculture.
Then, drawing attention to the limited allocation of climate funding to small-scale farmers (only 1.7% currently), she stressed the significance of empowering farmers’ organizations to ensure climate finance reaches those on the ground.
Addressing the audience, the WFO Board Member called for a holistic approach to agriculture and food systems, recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. She emphasized the importance of research, innovation, adaptation, and mitigation measures that consider local and national circumstances, are easily accessible to farmers, and can be scaled up to enable swift and effective adoption of farmer-driven solutions.
She also put light on the fact that livestock (including working livestock) are integral to sustainable economic, social, and environmental development. Moreover, livestock production systems hold untapped potential in fostering soil health, soil fertility, biodiversity, and increased carbon sequestration.
Ms Partanen underscored the need to protect the rights of farmers because “there is no climate justice without social justice.”
This is particularly relevant to issues of land rights and tenure, and in strengthening their bargaining power in supply chains and their resilience in the face of global market volatility.
To ensure all of that, Ms Partanen remarked that climate policy must remain consistent with the Paris Agreement, complementing action on improving global food security by – – “Recognizing the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change,” hence “increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production.”
Closing her speech, she called for increased farmer participation in COP28: “We need as many farmers as possible! In COP27, we had 100 farmers; let’s double the number to make sure that farmers are present in the discussions related to agriculture! Farmers need to be at the centre of Climate discussions in COP28!”
Furthermore, a side event organized by the Pan-African Farmers’ Organization (PAFO) and Agricord emphasized the pivotal role of Farmers’ Organisations (FOs) in constructing resilient food systems and sustainable agricultural value chains.
Representing their respective organizations, WFO Member Organisation Coldiretti Giovani actively engaged in this fruitful discussion to showcase success stories about economic services, advocacy, and institutional development of the membership-based farmers’ organisations.