By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire – April 8, 2016: Ministers of Agriculture from the countries of the African continent rose from the 29th FAO Regional Conference for Africa held between 4th and 8th April, 2016 in Abidjan, capital of Cote d’Ivoire with a collective declaration to take decisive action to fight food insecurity and climate change.

The declaration encouraged countries, actors in the private sector, the civil society and international organisations to work with Africa to “enhance the capacity of our countries to improve national institutional governance for direct and international access to climate finance, and to develop transformational policies, programs and projects for climate resilience and low carbon growth, in alignment with UNFCCC COP21 decisions.”

“We, the Ministers of Agriculture of African countries, recognize that climate change is a threat to realizing the right to food. It undermines our ability to eradicate extreme poverty and feed the world’s almost 800 million food insecure people. Over 70 percent of Africa’s poorest inhabitants live in rural areas, the majority of who earn income from the agricultural sector (crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture” and other natural resources. As a result, they are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change,” the declaration stated.

Noting that by some estimates, climate change could increase the number of malnourished people by the end of the century “unless we take immediate action,” they also stated that some other estimates suggest that the impact of climate change on food availability could result in an additional 500,000 deaths by 2050.

They realized that food security and climate change were reflected in two international agreements reached in 2015 (The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development), which included “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on eradicating poverty in all its forms; ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture; and taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.”

In toeing behind the Paris Agreement on climate change, which recognises the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger and for which developed countries promised to commit $100 million in annual climate change finance to developing countries by 2020, the Ministers stated: “We share a common vision that investment in productive and resilient agricultural development are vital to ensuring that our countries – and particularly our poorest and most food-insecure inhabitants – continue to prosper in spite of climate change.”

Recognizing that well-targeted investments in agriculture could improve natural resource management, contribute to adapting to climate change as well as mitigate climate change impacts by easing the pressures that drive deforestation, the Ministers encouraged developed countries to “Improve their pledges in 2018 so that all could have ambitious targets for 2025 – and then every five years thereafter, to make sure that African countries can cope with climate impacts and realize their mitigation potential as articulated in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).”

The declaration also urged advanced nations to increase financial and technical support for climate change adaptation, with a particular focus on the agricultural sectors and smallholder agricultural producers in the pre and post 2020 periods. They called on the advanced countries to “improve coordination when providing technical and financial support, including by aligning support with existing work related to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods.”

They submitted that with adequate financial and technical support, African governments were committed to work with the international community to implement the agriculture, forestry and land use components of the INDCs as submitted ahead of COP21 in Paris.