By Elizabeth Kahurani
That was the message at a side event discussing climate finance with agroforestry case studies at the just concluded UN session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 46) in Bonn, Germany. The side event was organized by The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), OroVerde- Tropical Forest Foundation and Global Nature Fund.
George Wamukoya, a lead negotiator on Agriculture in the UN climate convention framework said that Agroforestry is central to achieve objectives of the UN convention on climate change and the Paris agreement. He specifically cited Article 2.1b of the Paris Agreement on increasing the ability to adapt, foster climate resilience and low carbon without compromising the quality of food production. “Agroforestry is now a key feature in most African Landscapes,” George said and further exemplified how the practice enables farmers to adapt to climate change. “With forests becoming scarce, farmers realize the importance of having woodlots on their farms as a source of fuel. They are also increasingly getting tree varieties for fruits and other food items to supplement deficiencies.”
Agroforestry is also pivotal in mitigation- action to prevent emissions that lead to climate change. Trees on farm store carbon as well as enrich and stabilize the soil to act as added carbon stock.
To have Agroforestry’s role in meeting climate objectives recognized, George called on scientists present to provide input to the negotiation process by providing methodologies on how to monitor and measure agroforestry’s contribution to building resilience. This would show its value as a major component in efforts to achieve adaptation and other climate goals. He also urged scientists to work with countries in drafting national commitments to deal with climate change. These commitments need clarity on how agriculture will meet adaptation and mitigation goals. “For instance, Kenya has set out an emission reduction target of 30% in which agriculture is cited to play a role in both adaptation and mitigation. It is not elaborated how this is actually going to be delivered, a gap that is consistent in other countries national commitment drafts,” George explained.
Moreover, Agroforestry needs to be acknowledged for its potential to bridge multilateral agreements on environment. “Agroforestry is one way to connect Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) objectives with those of the UN convention on climate change. For example, Agroforestry is important to CBD Aichi target on reducing direct pressure on biodiversity and promoting sustainable use,” Christian Christian Großheim of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation in Germany said. Exploring such linkages to find cohesion and mainstream these ambitions across sectors is cost effective and promotes efficiency.
Mainstreaming Agroforestry in climate discussions, policies and action will open opportunities for investment and enhance existing avenues. And the numbers show agroforestry is worth investing. According to Lalisa Duguma, a Scientist with ICRAF, “compared with traditional three-stone cook stoves, the gasifier cook stove which uses branches of trees saves 27 to 40% of fuel, reduce cooking time by 19 to 23% and reduce emissions by 40 to 90%.” And this is just one of many examples of pathways to achieve climate action with trees on farms.
A study in Latin America on private capital for conservation by Torsten Klimpel, OroVerde and Andrea Peiffer, Global Nature Fund shows that commitment by investors has increased over time. For example, commitment towards sustainable food and fibre production totaled to USD 6.5 billion between 2004-2015. Channels of investment include funds, bonds, direct investment, and loans. These provide capital to initiatives on agroforestry, ecotourism and sustainable forestry. Among the benefits from these investments are preservation of natural forests, reduced use of pesticides and fertilizers, poaching, illegal logging, and increased species diversity. In addition, communities have a source of income and improved health conditions.
However, there are challenges to climate finance. These include issues around regulation, monitoring, risk versus return on investment, scaling and inclusion of poor smallholder farmers. For instance, most investments go for existing contracts, as new projects find it difficult to meet requirements to participate. Also, initiatives take on average three to five years before return on investment, which is a long time for smallholder farmers who are looking to meet their most basic and immediate needs.
This calls for government involvement and policy frameworks at various levels to guide resource allocation and provide incentives for agroforestry and other conservation initiatives.