UNFCCC Resumes Climate Negotiations at SB50 Conference in Bonn

UNFCCC SB50 Negotiations BonnLast month, CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere reached 415ppm, marking another alarming milestone in humanity's damaging effect on the environment. This occurance is unprecedented not just in recorded history, or since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago, but since before the existence of modern humans millions of years ago. In an attempt to seize our last opportunity to stop this process, country delegates have gathered this week and next in Bonn just steps from our office for the Climate Change Conference (SB50) under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Parties attending the conference at the Bonn World Conference Centre from June 17-27, 2019 will address numerous implementation issues under the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement in preparation for COP25, which will be held in Santiago, Chile from December 2-13, 2019.

IFOAM – Organics International is participating in this week's conference to represent the organic food and farming community, because now more than ever we need to increase awareness of the urgency to incorporate organic agriculture and other nature-based methods into the climate change solution.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN AT THE CONFERENCE?

In COP24's final hours, its primary objective was achieved: complete the “Paris Rulebook”, thereby preventing a breakdown in negotiations and ensuring the survival of multilaterialism and the Paris Agreement. Now branded the Katowice Climate Package, the manual was designed to operationalize the policy agreement by 2020.

Countries are now equipped with guidelines to plan, implement, and review their actions to halt climate change. However, the rule book remains incomplete and decisions related to market and non-market mechanisms (Article 6) had been postponed. These decisions are now being discussed in Bonn at climate conference, in advance of COP25.  Negotiations around this article are very important, and their outcome will determine if we can achieve real emission reductions while promoting sustainable development, ensuring environmental integrity, achieving gender equality, and protecting human rights including the rights of indigenous peoples.

AGRICULTURE AT SB50

Resulting from a decision made at the 2017 UN climate conference (COP23), agriculture is now back on the UNFCCC agenda, which officially acknowledges the sector's significance in adapting to and mitigating climate change.

IFOAM – Organics International contributes to this workstream, entitled the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA), and notes that failure to make our food systems sustainable will leave us no chance of reaching our Paris Agreement goals.

Under the workstream, six workshops covering different climate change and agriculture topics were scheduled between December 2018 and June 2020. The first workshop took place at COP24 last December in Katowice, Poland. The next two workshops are being held this week and next at the Bonn climate conference. These workshops will focus on two key issues:

  1. Methods and approaches for assessing adaptation, adaptation co-benefits and resilience;
  2. Improved soil carbon, soil health and soil fertility under grassland and cropland as well as integrated systems, including water management;

The focus of the second workshop is of key importance for IFOAM - Organics International. Healthy soils are essential to biodiversity, food security, and play a fundamental role in adapting to climate change. And we can offer a solution: organic agriculture, which is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects.

To ensure our points are explained well at the workshop, Gyso von Bonin, a long-established German organic farmer, will join a panel of experts to speak on our behalf and share his experiences as a guardian of soil fertility and soil health who stands up for millions of farmers rights.

The Role of Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the engine of soil and agriculture. The climate conference will serve as the stage for a special event of International Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) about their recently published Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

In this context, scientists are highlighting the need to adopt integrated approaches between the different conventions, especially those on climate change and biological diversity. Climate change will increasingly exacerbate and reinforce other drivers of biodiversity loss and climate justice cannot be achieved without biodiversity conservation and sustainable land use. IFOAM – Organics International welcomes the initiative of the conference chair, Paul Watkinson, to highlight the interlinkages between these issues and include them in the conference agenda (read the reflection note on SBSTA here).

LCIPP Convenes for the first time

IP image, source UN LCIPP siteAnother important set of activities will focus on the now operational Local Communities and Indigenous People Platform (LCIPP). Introduced last year at COP24, the LCIPP's Facilitative Working Group met for the first time in Bonn from June 14-16, 2019, prior to the official start of the conference. The LCIPP is very significant because it will effectively grant indigenous peoples an equal number of seats as country parties at COP25.

Tomorrow, on June 19, the LCIPP will co-host a workshop on the topic of enhancing participation of local communities and indigenous peoples.

Image source: LCIPP webpage of the UNFCC, https://unfccc.int/10475

Reducing THE influence of the fossil fuel industry

To limit the average global temperature increase to as close to 1.5°C as possible, more than 80% of fossil fuels must remain undisturbed in the ground. But how likely are we to get there, given how successful the fossil fuel industry and its allies have thus far been in weakening and delaying efforts? One thing is certain: as long as they are in the room, achieving the 1.5°C goal is less likely.

Demand to tackle conflicts of interest within the UNFCCC has been raised by global civil society organizations and governments representing over 70% of the world’s population and is supported by the European Parliament. However, progress has been slow to date, notably because the European Commission has sided with Canada and the United States of America to block any discussions on conflicts of interest from appearing on the UNFCCC agenda. IFOAM - Organics International has signed an official letter calling for the adoption of a strong policy on conflicts of interest that would end the disproportionate influence of the fossil fuel sector on international climate change negotiations.

Sign the letter here to join hundreds of concerned citizens and organizations.

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