Written by: Genna Tesdall (YPARD Director) & Pramisha Thapaliya (YOUNGO)
On April 13th and 15th, the COP27 Presidency of Egypt and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) hosted a unique Consultation on Agriculture and Food Security at the 27th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP27) at the FAO Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa in Cairo. Initiatives launched by the host government of the COP have become tradition, and the Egyptian government is making a unique mark by including a diversity of stakeholders in consultative processes, in an effort to co-design the proposed COP27 food and agriculture initiative.
YPARD had the honor of contributing to the consultations as a youth and young professionals stakeholder, and owes a huge thanks to the new think and do tank ClimEat for suggesting and funding YPARD’s travel as an appropriate representative. Genna Tesdall, the Director of YPARD, attended the in-person consultations. The inclusion of YPARD allowed the organization, as a member of the YOUNGO (the youth constituency of the UNFCCC processes) Agriculture Working Group, to draw in YOUNGO to the consultations; this opportunity, as the members of the YPARD Policy Working Group and YOUNGO can attest, represents a landmark opportunity for youth to substantially contribute to the co-design, and hopefully co-implementation, of the proposed COP27 food and agriculture initiative. A consultative process was held with the YPARD Policy Working Group, YPARD Steering Committee, and the YOUNGO Food and Agriculture Working Group to gather inputs for both oral and written interventions. The written intervention can be found at the end of this article.
In general, the participants of the consultation could reach consensus on several aspects of the proposed initiative. For all consultative stakeholders, it was of upmost importance that the proposed initiative focus on implementation of climate solutions by scaling local and regional projects. Raising the ambition of climate change mitigation and adaptation, including urgent commitments and actions to keep warming within 1.5C, formed a common baseline context for all participants. The proposed initiative should be agile by featuring a simple approach and governance mechanisms. These governance mechanisms should include representation from all stakeholders, especially youth, women and indigenous persons.
Based on these discussions, YOUNGO and YPARD propose an initiative which creates a fund, allocated in the form of grants and loans, but with an emphasis on grants, to existing grassroots climate change mitigation and adaptation projects, especially those created by and working with youth and women small-scale producers. YOUNGO and YPARD also emphasize the benefit of including the other stakeholder groups to the UNFCCC process in the future consultations, for true co-design and co-implementation with our fellow stakeholder groups. For more details on the suggestion, please see the text below.
YOUNGO and YPARD look the next steps of the consultative process and preparations for COP27.
Proposal for the COP27 agriculture and food initiative
YOUNGO and YPARD propose an initiative which creates a fund, allocated in the form of grants and loans (with emphasis on grants), to existing grassroots climate change mitigation and adaptation projects, enterprises, etc, especially those of and working with small-scale producers.
Rationale: The true cost of food and agricultural products is currently not reflected in their prices. Therefore, food and agriculture projects with net benefit to the climate (but also the environment, human and animal welfare) are currently not consistently rewarded in the form of profit; therefore, until the true cost of food is reflected in prices worldwide, projects with climate solutions will often not appear credit worthy for loan schemes. To scale-up these climate solutions even before the true price of food is paid worldwide, granting schemes are therefore necessary.
This fund should be governed in cooperation with the stakeholder groups, especially youth and women, as crosscutting stakeholder groups. The initiative should also be created in collaboration with the UAE Presidency, in order to further contribute to the longevity of the initiative.
Rationale: Youth are a key stakeholder to involve in the initiative, as the majority of the population of the African continent is youth. Thus, an initiative which alleviates poverty, hunger, and creates climate solutions must be co-created and implemented by the stakeholders which will carry the initiative forward and benefit from it.
Pillars of the YOUNGO and YPARD vision for the COP27 and the agriculture and food initiative
- Planning and design of the initiative: Recognizing that policies should be formulated not for youths (all stakeholders) but with direct engagement of youths.
It is heartily welcomed that the suggestions of young people have been sought ahead of this important COP 27 agriculture and food proposed initiative. We hope that both the institutionalized mechanism of the young people (YOUNGO - official children and youth constituency to the UNFCCC process) and grassroot level youth organizations and movements, especially those which are underrepresented in current processes, and key youth stakeholders of the Africa region will be consulted in the upcoming days to design the initiative itself.
We will continue to advocate that youth need to be engaged at eye-level as an equal and important stakeholder for co-creation and co-implementation of climate change adaptation and mitigation solutions. This can be achieved through governance of the initiative which specifically includes the stakeholder groups of the UNFCCC (like YOUNGO). Especially Indigenous people and local community individuals voices are needed in negotiations processes.
We also call for support for youth in climate change mitigation and adaptation by including youth-led climate smart agricultural initiatives in strategies, plans, and finance mechanisms.
- Synergy with Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture: Raise the ambition of the Koronivia joint work on agriculture and the commitments of the COP processes.
We welcome the presentations from our FAO colleagues on the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture during Day One of the workshop. We, as youth, strongly recommend that the proposed initiative should prioritize the areas and key deliverables based on the findings of the previous workshops held under Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (platform for agriculture negotiations in the UNFCCC process). Having said so, the initiative should also consider other missing pieces or topics that KJWA failed to address.
There is need for an inclusiveness action by implementing all findings and recommendations to under developing and developing countries by stakeholders and parties with all necessary supports
- Commitments, both from policy and finance mechanisms, must match overall goals, including the goal to keep warming below 1.5C.
- Policies which regulate and enforce the true cost of food are essential to the success of climate solutions, which are currently often considered as risky investments with uncertain profitability. Youth are convinced that the true cost of food (and agricultural products) would be a solution.
- Mainstream agriculture and youth into the main COP dialogues.
- Fair and just approach: Recognize, honor, and enforce the environmental and human rights of youth, women, indigenous persons, small-scale farmers, and environmental activists and journalists.
- An emphasis on the protection of youth as a strong but also vulnerable group, with an emphasis on our human rights– the right to food, the right to decent livelihoods, and the end to the exploitation of youth.
- Acknowledgement and addressing of youth unpaid and underpaid labor, which is a systematic challenge for youth to contribute to solutions in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
- Human and environmental rights due diligence must be enforced for corporate actors– we need agricultural systems made for people and the environment, not markets.
- Equity-, not equality-based approach for all youth and especially young women, in order to address systemic barriers to all youths’ diversity.
- Strengthening of language from “access” to “right to” across political texts to provide a stronger basis for youth participation and leadership.
- Finance and removal of institutional barriers
The proposed initiative should address the existing barriers that youth initiatives in agriculture and grassroot level agriculture organizations and smallholder farmers are facing. It should be solution oriented and need to collaborate with financial institutions for easy access of funds, loans and grants to those groups.
Green Finance needs to be addressed especially to local people who are victims of different categories of climate crisis issues. An implementation policy for financial inclusion and accountability strategies should be taken into consideration in the process
The proposed initiative must address existing barriers to inclusion of young people and women, particularly from underserved grassroots marginalized communities, who are always at the forefront of smallholder agricultural practices and are most vulnerable to climate change impacts, thus making it solution oriented and requiring collaboration with financial institutions for easy access to funds, loans, and grants to those groups.