The African countries say this will promote local nourishing food that celebrates African heritage, strengthen local markets and economies and move away from industrial agriculture, corporate monopolies, and false climate solutions – toward food sovereignty and agroecology.
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA. African countries have agreed to push for the adoption of agroecology at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt.
The 32 African countries also say agroecology or sustainable farming that works with nature is a better means of forging the next best solution for Africa’s food problems.
“We demand that COP27 put agroecology at the centre of Africa’s climate adaptation, creating resilience for Africa’s small-scale farmers, fishers, pastoralists, indigenous communities and their food systems.”
The participants, who represented 200 million small-scale farmers, women groups, fisherfolk, pastoralists, religious groups and indigenous peoples and the media, were drawn from 32 African countries that included Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mozambique, South Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria.
The group met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from September 19 to 21.
Egypt hosts the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) in the Red Sea city of Sharm El-Sheikh in November to build consensus on tackling global challenges of climate change.
The high-level Addis Ababa conference agreed that agroecology is the best adaptation and mitigation method for climate change in Africa and are urging COP27 to adopt it as a better tool for fighting the causes and consequences of climate change and its negative impacts.
The conference was organised by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) and Consortium on Climate Change Ethiopia and Environment Protection Authority.
Agroecology stresses sustainable farming that works with nature by creating synergies and balancing environmental, social and economic considerations, supporting food production, security and nutrition as well as restoring the natural ecosystem and biodiversity needed for sustainable agriculture.
For 30 years now, the world has been fighting against climate change and its negative impacts and is struggling to understand better the science behind climate change, and assess its impacts, and develop tools to address its causes and consequences.
But Dr Million Balley, the AFSA general coordinator, warned that the current methods being adopted for climate change adaptation and mitigation for Africa are not sustainable.
“Agroecology is showing the way, reducing costs, increasing soil fertility, raising more diverse, healthy, and culturally-appropriate food crops, and adapting to climate change,” Mr Balley said.
“Agroecology can contribute to food security while addressing climate challenges as it boosts biodiversity, restores degraded land, improves ecosystem services and increases soil carbon sequestration besides enhancing economic performance,” he said.
Dr Getahun Garedew, the Director General of the Ethiopian Environmental Protection Authority (EEPA), said just like other African countries, Ethiopia has been experiencing the worst drought and attributed it to climate change.
“Climate is posing a great threat to Africa food system and it is now clear that we have to work toward our own food system as Africa, we feel that agroecology meets all this,” Dr Garedew said.
Mr Hakim Baliraine, the chairperson of ESAFF, said most farmers use their indigenous knowledge to grow their crops and agro-ecology has fitted in the existing knowledge and practice of Africans.
While defining Africa’s Position for COP27, Ms Bridget Mugambe, the AFSA programme coordinator and focal person for the climate and agroecology working group, said agroecology will secure African food systems against impacts of climate change and should be given attention.
“Africa is feeling the effects of the climate emergency every day, with rising temperatures, droughts and floods already hitting small-scale farmers and women hard. To sustain our livelihoods and feed communities, we are forced to adapt – yet we are receiving negligible funds from the international community. We call on this COP27 to put food systems at the centre of adaptation plans for Africa and direct climate finance to agroecology. Africa can be fed by Africans.” Ms Mugambe said.
Prof Felix Kanungwe Kalaba, the lead author, Chapter 9 (Africa) and Cross-Chapter Paper Lead (Tropical Forests), said, “Over the past two decades, 337 million people in Africa were affected by natural disasters. Floods and droughts accounted for 80% of these disasters, and droughts for 16%. Over 46,000 deaths from natural disasters were recorded in Africa in this period, 32% from floods and 46% from droughts, showing that floods affect more people, but droughts are more deadly overall.”
In November 2021, during COP26, Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) was launched to address climate change and global hunger by increasing $8 billion investment in science-based and data-driven climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation over five years (2021 – 2025).
But Mr Peter Gubbles, the Director of Action Learning and Advocacy at Groundswell West Africa, said agroecology, unlike AIM for Climate, offers a better alternative for Climate change adaptation and mitigation.
“AIM for Climate is a deliberate strategy to reframe industrial agriculture and big tech as climate change heroes rather than the climate change villains that they actually are,” Mr Gubbles warns.
Mr Gubbles says AIM for Climate seeks to replace smallholders as it advocates use of technology to boost production and productivity to feed the fast-growing world population.
“Small-scale farmers will be pushed off the land for large-scale farming. They will increasingly be replaced by robots, data, machines and the use of gene-edited seeds, all for the profits of big Ag and big TECH corporations,” he warned.
COP1 was first held in March 1995 in Berlin, Germany, with COP3 in Kyoto, Japan, and then after the Kyoto Protocol was adopted. COP is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention. All States that are Parties to the Convention are represented at the COP to review the implementation of the Convention and any other legal instruments that the COP adopts and take decisions necessary to promote the effective implementation of the Convention, including institutional and administrative arrangements.