Achieving the common goal of resilient and low-emission landscapes in the Asia-Pacific region will require joint action. The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in 2021 acknowledged that transition is essential to achieving a sustainable and climate-resilient food system. To keep up the COP26 momentum and as preparation for the upcoming COP27 in 2022, the “Promotion of Sustainable Agricultural Value Chains in ASEAN” (ASEAN AgriTrade) Project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and being implemented under cooperation between GIZ and…ASEAN organised the “Scaling up Climate Actions for Resilient and Low-Emission Landscapes in Asia and Pacific: In the Lead Up to COP27” in March.
Partner organisers of the webinar series included the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the Regional Community Forestry Training Centre for Asia and the Pacific (RECOFTC), the Climate & Clean Air Coalition hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Japan, the ASEAN Secretariat and relevant ASEAN working groups, the ASEAN Climate Resilience Network and the ASEAN Negotiating Group for Agriculture
To bring outcomes of the global climate summit COP26 towards COP27, the event was divided into 3 series as follows:
The first event of the series held on March 1-3 synthesised key outcomes from COP26 for the land-use sector in Asia-Pacific. The event highlighted the important role of the agriculture, land-use and forestry sectors in contributing to each country’s climate pledge including ambitious net-zero targets and the Global Methane Pledge. Nature-based solutions, long-term strategies, national adaptation plans, and nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are all regarded as implementing mechanisms for countries to achieve the target. Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia have made commitments to the global methane pledge. To meet their climate pledge, each country should harmonise all available tools and approaches, such as synergising the land-use sector and other sectors such as energy and adopting climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices for example, integrated farming systems, agroecology and agroforestry.
However, questions on the appetite for supply and demand for forest credits, implications of Article 6 of Paris Agreement, the issue of environmental integrity, and the status of the Asia-Pacific compared to other regions and the global context remained unanswered from this post-COP26 discussion and may be discussed further in the future.
The follow-up session held on March 15-16 discussed the ways to transform agriculture through resilient and low-emission practices. Country representatives presented technologies and practices the ASEAN countries are already using towards resilient and low-emission agriculture, such as the Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) method, the Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system which is crucial for NDC tracking, and CSA practices for low-emissions livestock. To promote transformation of resilient and low-emission agriculture, a clear vision is needed. Participants anticipated that ASEAN agriculture would be a ‘Resilient, biodiverse and pollution-free agrifood system that provides healthy and nutritious food for all in Asia by 2050’. Cooperation among different stakeholders including farmers, food producers, development partners, international and domestic non-governmental organisations, the private sector, government, academia and research institutes is needed to go beyond the different agendas to the future we want. Government policy, finance, awareness, technology & innovation and education are all key factors to drive the path to achieve the set vision.
“In order to ensure food security while addressing sustainability challenges, including climate change, biodiversity loss, and global population growth, it is essential to establish resilient and low-emission food systems. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for the transition to resilient and low-emission food systems. Each country and region must find its own solutions according to circumstances surrounding the country and region.” said Toyohisa Aoyama, Director General for Technical Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan, in his welcome remarks.
The last event of the series held on March 22 could successfully scale up ambitious actions through partnerships between the business sector, government agencies, and international development agencies. The government agencies from ASEAN member states presented their policies, plans, programmes and various measures/tools to support the decision making. Research and science organisations shared their various programmes and activities to accelerate transformation for agricultural innovation. However, having longer-term support is important for climate resilience and adaptation efforts. This event served as an initial platform for the organisations to look to the partners in this event within the ASEAN region and move forward to further collaborate in the future.
“The key point is how to ensure agriculture is developed in a sustainable manner, particularly to decrease the adverse impact from climate change. To sustain this, ASEAN has tried to develop a policy and framework to promote sustainability and circular economy in the agriculture sector. In response to the need, ASEAN is now developing the ASEAN Strategies for Carbon Neutrality and the Regional Guidelines for Sustainable Agriculture in ASEAN.” said Dr. Pham Quang Minh, Head of Food, Agriculture and Forestry Division, ASEAN Secretariat, in his keynote remarks.
*Illustration by Eisen Bernardo of Mekong Institute helps visualise the pathway to the collective vision for 2050 of a resilient and low emission agriculture in Asia.