From September 30 – October 2, 2021, Italy, as the UK’s COP26 Presidency partners, hosted the pre-COP in Milan.
A delegation of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) was there virtually and in person to reiterate the importance of putting farmers at the heart of any conversation on agriculture and climate change and show what farmers are already doing to advance towards more sustainable and climate-resilient food systems.
Here’s a round-up of the events WFO has been involved in during the three-day event:
Milan, Italy, September 30, 2021 – WFO Secretary General Arianna Giuliodori spoke at the pre-COP26 event: “ClimateShot: Accelerating Agricultural Innovation at COP26“
Co-hosted by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) in partnership with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the event explored the way forward in the lead up to Glasgow and the actions to be taken to close the agricultural innovation ‘adoption gap’.
The WFO Secretary General brought the voice of farmers into the debate stressing the importance of putting farmers at the heart of any conversation on climate.
She underlined what WFO, with the other fellow farmers organizations and other entities, is doing to ensure that those who produce food are not left out from the political agenda at COP26 and beyond.
She called to the audience’s mind the “The Climakers” initiative, a farmer-driven climate change agenda promoting a reversed paradigm where farmers propose solutions assessed by science to advance in the right direction.
Concerning the critical issue of the ‘adoption gap’ that prevents farmers from benefiting from innovations, she pointed out that “When there’s an innovation gap, there might be a misalignment between the demand for innovation coming from the farmers and the offer that is approaching them. “Are we really answering to their needs? Farmers are innovators by nature and have always been, but they want the right answers,” said Arianna Giuliodori, closing her speech.
Milan, Italy, Italy, October 1, 2021 – WFO Head of Policy Development Luisa Volpe addressed the pre-COP26 event: “Race for our Planet”
Hosted by Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Italy, Jill Morris, and the UNFCCC High-Level Champions Nigel Topping and Gonzalo Muñoz, the events convened the members and the partners of ‘Race to Zero’ and ‘Race to Resilience’ to describe their pledges, why they have chosen to commit and how they address the challenges to build resilience and reach net zero.
Speaking on behalf of WFO, Luisa Volpe didn’t miss the opportunity to remind the audience how diverse are farmers across the world. Still, despite this diversity, they have one common challenge: climate change, which is not new to them. “They have been adapting to climate change and developing resilience since ever,” – she stated – “They did it alone, looking for solutions at the farm level, and nobody was putting an eye on what they were doing until very a few years ago. That is why communications and awareness-raising are so essential.”
That is why WFO is fully engaged in climate negotiations to support governments with experience and insights from the farmers directly. In this perspective, in 2018, WFO launched the “The Climakers” initiative, the Farmers Driven Climate Change Agenda, completely based on the experiences of the farmers.
“Farmers have a lot to say and a lot to propose to governments as solutions. Our idea is that when governments plan or implement NDCs in countries and national adaptation plans, they already have the farmers’ solution at their hands. They can invest in this and scale up it,” the WFO Head of Policy Development said.
Hence, Luisa Volpe underlined the necessity of working in partnerships: “This is a systemic world, and the recently held UN Food Systems Summit showed how the world is interconnected and how food and climate are interlinked.”
Farmers are committed to the race and are committed to winning, but they are also aware they cannot succeed alone and are keen to partner with other actors in the value chain, international organisations, and policymakers to contribute to the Climate Agenda. This is precisely the spirit of “The Climakers” based on a multi-stakeholder alliance.
#Youth4Climate – Young farmers must drive decisions and actions towards Climate Change
On September 28, Dimakatso (Nono) Sekhoto, WFO Gymnasium Alumna and a member of the WFO Women Committee, joined as a speaker the event “Driving global youth action for climate adaptation in food systems”, an official side-event of the “Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition”, a landmark youth event hosted by the Italian Government just before pre-COP26. It brought together youth voices from around the globe to highlight the crucial role of youth in climate action and adaptation in food systems.
Nono Sekhoto brought to the conversation her experience as a young woman in the farming sector, explaining to the audience that “There is no one-size-fits-all solution“, but every specific situation needs specific action.
As a woman farmer, she underlined that women in agriculture have specific needs, but – first – they need to be recognized as entrepreneurs and, consequentially, introduced in networks, programs and projects that already exist to let their confidence blossom.
As a young farmer, she emphasized that young people passionate about farming need support to continue their work, access new opportunities, and be real agents of the change that food systems need.