Exploiting forests solely as a carbon vehicle misses the big picture, says COP negotiator
Negotiators at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Warsaw, Poland, in two weeks (November 16-17) are hopeful they can advance the difficult discussions being made leading to an international deal on how to manage climate change.
The GLF — held in parallel with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19) — proposes a ‘landscapes’ approach to resolve the central dilemma confronting humanity today: How can we produce enough food for 9 billion people by 2050 without destroying Earth’s forests and accelerating climate change?
Tony La Viña, a forestry expert and U.N. climate negotiator for the Philippines, says that treating trees just as a source of carbon is not the answer: “If forests are seen solely as a carbon vehicle, this might be good for climate change, but it’s actually bad for communities, forests and biodiversity,” he says.
“We need to use a more holistic approach which takes into account the role and interaction of different components of the landscape, including forests and agriculture.”
Forests and trees are an important part of the healthy ecosystem on which agricultural production depends — forests supply an estimated 75% of usable water globally. But forests face growing challenges from demographic trends.
A projected global population of 9 billion by 2050 will increase the already high rates of deforestation in tropical regions, exacerbating threats to health and propelling climate change: Land-use activities account for one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Anette Engelund Friis, climate expert with the World Farmers Organization, says agriculture alone contributes an estimated 10 to 15 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.
“Agriculture has a potential for mitigation, but it has always been a political issue,” Engelund Friis says. “That‘s why a workshop in Warsaw is important, to allow negotiators to discuss the complexities of agriculture.”
The time has come to put agriculture at the center of U.N. climate talks, Friis says, adding that the world needs to take a coherent approach to agriculture.
“It’s clear that adaptation and building resilience is crucial for the agriculture sector and for food security,” she says.
More than 350 UN climate negotiators are expected to attend the Global Landscapes Forum, which will bring together more than 1,000 people from forestry, farming and other land-based sectors to exchange ideas.
Join Tony La Viña for a live Twitter chat on Thursday 31 October at 13.00 GMT (London) [06:00, San Francisco; 09:00 New York; 14:00, Paris; 22:00 Tokyo; 24:00 Sydney]
Media are invited to apply for complimentary registration for the Global Landscape Forum. There will be a media room at the Forum, and regular press briefings.
The Global Landscapes Forum, Warsaw, 16-17 November 2013:
- 100+ speakers
- 1000+ delegates
- Daily press briefings
- A global platform of world leaders, policy makers, scientists, enterprise, indigenous groups and climate negotiators
Key speakers include: Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Rachel Kyte, Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank; Minister Marcin Korolec, Polish Minister of Environment and President of the UNFCCC COP19; more speakers here.
Key sessions will address food security, finance, policy and legislation for deforestation, rural development, landscape-scale planning, climate-smart agriculture, and beyond the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and 2015.