Pacific States Lead by Example on Climate Change by Going Organic | #COP23 #LuvOrganic

The devastation caused by multiple climate disasters in recent months have shown, once again, that islands in the Pacific are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events, exacerbated and made more frequent by climate change. Despite recent distractions around the Paris Climate Agreement, it is time to re-focus our efforts and unite to find solutions for those suffering the most on the frontlines of climate change.

Presided over by the Government of Fiji, the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will take place at the headquarters of the UNFCCC Secretariat in Bonn, Germany. 

We call on parties to the first ever COP to be hosted by a small-island state to concentrate on alleviating the problems of those who suffer most from climate change, although they have contributed least to the problems.

Climate change adaptation is an urgent, life-threatening issue for millions of people in the most vulnerable regions of the world. And it’s not only their lives and land which are under attack, but also their food and nutrition security. In these cases, adaptation means making farms, and how farmers grow food, more resilient.

Leading with foresight, the Fijian island of Cicia has taken first steps toward securing the future of its citizens by going organic.

Organic farms emit much lower levels of greenhouse gases. They quickly, affordably and effectively sequester carbon in the soil and can retain as much as 28 % more carbon in the soil than industrial farming.

In fact, if we increase by just 0.4% a year the quantity of carbon stored in soils, we can halt the annual increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, which is a major contributor to climate change. 

Farming organically can help achieve this with practices such as cover cropping, composting and crop rotation that enhance soil-carbon sequestration.

In addition to making food and farming systems more resilient to climate change, organic agriculture also reduces poverty and improves nutrition security, mainly due to its water efficiency, resilience to extreme weather events and lower risk of complete crop failure.

Other vulnerable communities in the Pacific region have also taken action to safeguard the health and safety of their people. A coalition of 100 mayors have formed the League of Organic Agriculture Municipalities and Cities to ban GMOs and toxic farming chemicals in the Philippines.

We believe that these leading examples are a clear indication of the importance and necessity of placing sustainable agriculture in the spotlight of climate change negotiations. This can best be served by establishing a work program on agriculture and food security to tackle and prioritize issues such as the permanent reduction of non-CO2 emissions in agriculture (i.e. methane and nitrous oxide - CH4 and N2O) as well as adaptation issues and the need to safeguard land rights and food security.

Furthermore, if we are to keep the 1.5ºC target alive, countries should commit to realizing the potential of soil as a climate change solution by signing up for and delivering on the 4p1000 Initiative.

We, at IFOAM – Organics International, hope that countries will be able to turn COP23 into a ‘visionary summit’ as addressed by the Fijian Presidency by reaffirming ‘global commitment to climate action’. We call on world leaders to show that President Trump’s decision to turn his back on the Paris Agreement leads to a more strengthened, not weakened global alliance to tackle climate change. Follow the example shown by the Fijian island of Cicia. Go organic.

If you are also coming to Bonn and would like to meet with us or invite us to an event, then please contact Gábor Figeczky, Advocacy Manager, g.figeczky [at] ifoam.bio.

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