San Jose, 11 July 2022 (IICA) – With food security topping the global agenda, agriculture must occupy a prominent position at the next United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27), to be held in Egypt in November, because of its link to environmental issues and its role as part of the solution to global challenges.
This perspective was shared by the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) in the North African country and by Manuel Otero, Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), in a virtual dialogue that also included a detailed analysis of the economic and social impacts in Latin America and the Caribbean of disruptions in the global food, energy and fertilizer markets.
The discussion took place as part of IICA’s activities leading up to COP 27. For the upcoming global meeting that will define the future of collective actions to mitigate and adapt to global warming, the ministers and secretaries of agriculture of the Americas asked IICA to help reach a consensus so as to present a continent-level converging position regarding agriculture.
In May, the ministers, secretaries and officials of 32 countries of the Americas expressed that the current global conditions have raised awareness of the fragility of food and nutrition security around the world and the need for increased sustainable agricultural production, especially in response to growing climate risks.
In this regard, Eduardo Antonio Varela, Ambassador of Argentina to Egypt, who hosted the event, underpinned the importance of IICA having assumed the commitment to cooperate with Egypt leading up to the conference in November, which will be held in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.
“The cooperation between IICA and Egypt is extremely important for those of us who represent Latin America here”, said Varela from the Argentine Embassy in Cairo.
Last May, IICA’s Director General and Yasmine Fouad, Minister of Environment of Egypt, agreed in a virtual meeting that the Institute’s support will focus on creating and transferring scientific knowledge relating to food and nutrition security, agriculture and innovation, and their relationship to climate change.
“The agricultural agenda will occupy an important position at the conference at a time of extreme tension in the global food markets”, added Varela, who stressed that Egypt, which will receive officials and experts on environmental issues from around the world, is particularly vulnerable in terms of food security and pointed to its particular dependence on wheat imports, the price of which has skyrocketed due to the war in Eastern Europe.
Octavio Tripp, Ambassador of Mexico and chairman of GRULAC in Cairo, expressed that food security is an extremely relevant topic today.
“Without a doubt, food security is linked to climate change”, he noted, “which is why their joint analysis is extremely important at the upcoming celebration of COP 27 in Egypt. The ambassadors of Latin America in this country hold a great interest in educating ourselves on the reality of food security”. He also referred to the situation affecting agricultural production due to ongoing fertilizer availability issues.
“We’re convinced that the agriculture sector will occupy a prominent place at COP 27 as part of the solution to climate change and the need to conserve biodiversity. Food security, which is threatened by a number of factors, cannot be treated in isolation, but in conjunction with environmental issues, international trade, energy issues and the quality of life in our communities”, stated Otero.
The Director General explained that IICA, as an institution looking outward to the world from the Americas, promotes collective action.
“The hemisphere’s ministers of Agriculture are our mandators, but we also interact with other ministries and with the private sector, universities and civil society organizations, because the sustainable development and transformation of agriculture must be a concern for all stakeholders. It is time to act together. We must develop a powerful message to strengthen the participation of the agriculture sector in all areas where climate change is a topic of discussion”, he added.
Otero explained that IICA will work to ensure that Latin America is able to demonstrate the progress it is making in no-till farming, natural pastures, forest grazing systems, waste reduction and other best practices in terms of environmental sustainability. “We must share them and feel proud”, he said.
Otero expressed that it is essential to underscore the importance of Latin America and the Caribbean, both in terms of climate change and global food security.
“The region is home to a good portion of the planet’s natural resources: 50% of the planet’s biodiversity, 22% of drinking water, 31% of fresh water and 33% of arable land. Our forests play a key role as a carbon sink and in the water cycle. And we barely generate 9% of total greenhouse gas emissions, while we are the world’s net food exporting region. This should lend us strength in the negotiations”.
In addition to Ambassadors Varela (Argentina) and Tripp (Mexico), the mission chiefs in Egypt of Brazil, Antonio Patriota; Ecuador, Rafael Veintimilla; Guatemala, José Guillermo; Panama, Julissa de Hoyos; Cuba, Tania Aguiar; Venezuela, William Omar; and Colombia, Ana Milena Muñoz, also attended the event.
Other ministers, secretaries and agricultural attachés from the embassies of the Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Uruguay also participated.
During her intervention, the Panamanian ambassador asked IICA’s Director General for details on the Institute’s digital agriculture initiatives.
Otero listed the actions geared toward stimulating rural connectivity in alliance with organizations such as the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) and Microsoft; building digital skills in rural populations; and IICA’s role as a bridge between start-ups with a focus on the agriculture sector and investment funds, among others.
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