Positive steps for working animals at COP27
Chiara Soletti, Global External Affairs Advisor at Brooke, covers the newly-launched Sharm el-Sheikh Joint Work on Implementation of Climate Action on Agriculture and Food Security and explains why this is good news for working livestock.
After two weeks of negotiations, the final hours of the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) closed with the launch of a new four-year joint work programme, focusing on the implementation of climate change solutions for agriculture. This is of vital importance to working livestock, including equids, who make a crucial contribution to agroecology and food security but are often represented as an emissions problem.
The Sharm el-Sheikh Joint Work on Implementation of Climate Action on Agriculture and Food Security is the continuation of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture, which, since 2017 has been running a series of technical workshops and consultations to discuss the creation of a specific programme on agriculture, food systems and climate change within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
This is of vital importance to working livestock, including equids, who make a crucial contribution to agroecology and food security but are often represented as an emissions problem.
The consultations represented an important occasion to depolarise the debate around livestock taking into consideration the reality of low and middle-income countries, where livestock is often much more sustainable, and many working animals support the agricultural sector.
Guided by the results of the Koronivia consultation process run by the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), the negotiators worked to present to the COP27 a draft text with detailed areas that should be prioritised around agriculture and climate change, also including improved livestock management systems, and socioeconomic and food security dimensions of climate change in the agricultural sector.
The final joint programme text recognises that 'sustainably managed livestock systems have high adaptive capacity and resilience to climate change while playing broad roles in safeguarding food... security, livelihoods, sustainability' and notes that 'improving sustainable production and animal health, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the livestock sector while enhancing sinks on pasture and grazing land, can contribute to achieving long-term climate objectives'.
The formal recognition of the positive roles of sustainably managed livestock and animal health in the context of climate change solutions is a key entry point to show the contribution of working livestock to agroecology, food security, livelihoods and climate change solutions, ensuring that animals, like working equids, will be appropriately taken into consideration in the texts focusing on the implementation of the programme, and included in future climate and sustainable development agricultural national policies.
There is some missed opportunity, as a permanent body dedicated to agriculture and climate change failed to be granted, despite pushes from civil society, and a specific mention of agroecology is also missing from the text. However, the new programme still represents a very important first step and brings positive aspects, like a specific mention to smallholder farmers, the main owners of working equids, as well as a balanced focus on implementation, reflected also in the paragraphs dedicated to livestock.
Brooke was accredited at the UNFCCC with observer status., Tthe External Affairs Team followed the climate negotiations remotely and provided input to civil society groups present at COP27, in preparation of their participation in the works of the “Sharm el-Sheikh Joint Work on Implementation of climate action on agriculture and food security” that will start in 2023.