Supporting food security through low emission long term strategies
On the 6th September 2023, the African Climate Action Partnership (AfCAP) together with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Regional Collaboration Centres (UNFCCC RCC), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Coalition of Action for Soil Health (CA4$H) and the Global Methane Hub (GMH) hosted an official side session during Africa Climate Week. The session entitled: “Supporting food security through low emission long-term strategies” explored climate smart solutions for key agricultural sectors and pathways to policy interventions through Long Term Low Emissions Development Strategies (LT-LEDS).
The first portion of the session focused on solutions for low emission and climate resilient food systems. The panel discussion kicked off with Dr. Claudia Arndt from ILRI and lead of the Mazingira Centre. She shared some of her work in terms of solutions for reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and improving the productivity of the livestock sector. Arndt indicated where African countries are in terms of setting and implementing reduction targets. She expressed that the heart of the problem lies in methane. It accounts for almost 70% of livestock GHG emissions in Sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, tackling methane emissions is crucial to staying within the 1.5°C global warming limit. She indicated however, the focus should not only be on reducing emissions in Africa, as Africa has a triple challenge. The three challenges included; 1) achieving food security; 2) controlling escalating GHG emissions and 3) adapting to inevitable climate change.
Arndt noted that while 21 African nations have set mitigation targets, there is still a mismatch between ambition and capacity. As many nations lack the technical know-how to do GHG assessments at the level of detail that is needed to effectively capture mitigation efforts. In order to navigate these challenges in Africa, there is a need for Climate Smart Practices, which encompasses increased productivity, reduced emissions and bolstered adaptation. She indicated that local solutions need to be tailored to specific regions in Africa. Arndt expressed that as we look at livestock emission reduction, it is essential to mention carbon sequestration through improving soil health and regenerative practices. Regrettably, data scarcity in Africa hinders the accurate calculation of carbon credits. Thus, investing in long-term experiments to gather this data is crucial. Arndt concluded by stating that the urgency is clear that mitigation is needed now. By implementing Climate Smart Practices and concurrently measuring their impact, we can navigate the impending challenges. Arndt left everyone with a reminder that the recent droughts in the Horn of Africa, leading to massive livestock losses, is the price of inaction.
The second speaker was Dr.Elliott Dossou-Yovo from AfricaRice. Dossou-Yovo discussed whether African countries are considering climate change in their ambitions to increase rice production and what these countries should be doing to ensure their development ambitions for the sector are climate smart and are reducing emissions. Dossou-Yovo explained that most African countries recognise the importance of reducing the GHG emissions produced by the Rice sector. He indicated that research and technologies have been developed to reduce emissions while simultaneously increasing food security and climate change adaptation.
Dossou-Yovo expressed that 4 actions need to be taken to incorporate rice production into their climate ambitions. The first being the need for partnership between CGIAR, the national agriculture research system and private sector for capacity building to ensure the appropriate use of technologies. The second is to develop pilot business models which will link to the scale of these technologies with job creation for women and youth whilst demonstrating profitability for the practices. The third action focuses on research , there is a need for the continuous development of technologies that have potential to reduce GHG emissions whilst ensuring food security and climate adaptation. Key farming systems need to be monitored in order to support policy makers with data to inform decisions and targets set. The fourth and final action mentioned by Dossou-Yovo, is the adoption of innovative technologies and skills which will speak to the government. Access to markets and extension services are the main drivers to the adoption of these innovative technologies. The main key message from Dossou-Yovo was that there are many options in the rice sector and the rice sector cannot afford to increase production if there is no evidence of innovation.
The third speaker was Dr. Kofi Boateng from GMH. He was tasked to provide the answer to the question of why African countries should be increasing their ambitions for methane reduction while food security is a persistent issue in many of these countries and how GMH can support these efforts. Boateng expressed that African food production systems are not at the level where there will be sufficient food production for the whole continent; however, when African countries reach this level it will be through innovative technologies. He explained that there are opportunities for African countries to take advantage of the climate smart practices that will improve productivity whilst reducing methane emissions. He mentioned that it is important to consider methane mitigation through food security.
At the GMH, Boateng explained that the hub takes on many issues within the research and development sector. The hub brings together expertise to develop and share knowledge. One key focus area for GMH is to open access to data. He explained that there is a need for robust data and this needs to be taken into account. GMH is supporting efforts to improve GHG and MRV systems. The GMH is open for collaboration with government officials, research institutions, NGOs and many other stakeholders that have the capacity to mainstream the focus areas of the GMH.
The fourth speaker was Dr.Ermias Betemariam from CA4$H. He was tasked with telling the audience about the Soil Health Resolution and why countries should support this resolution. He expressed that protecting our soil and soil health is like protecting human health. Betemariam explained that the key goal of the coalition is to bring soil health to a global platform. The coalition identified key areas on how to achieve the main goal, tap into opportunities while simultaneously reducing the barriers to achieve the overall goal. These key areas are namely; evidence and access to data, influence on policy, finance and investment and lastly the empowerment of farmers.
Betemariam explained that the coalition has four basic targets. One is the integration of soil health in policy and having evidence of the integration. The second is having action and research. The third is the increase of land and healthy soils. The fourth target is attracting more investment. He explained that countries agree that agriculture is an important aspect of national planning but exclude this sector from their NDCs due to a lack of capacity that would be required to continuously report on progress.
The discussion then shifted focus towards integrating solutions for resilient and low emission agriculture into countries’ long-term strategies (LTS). The first speaker on this topic was Lawrence Mashungu from the UNFCCC RCC for East and Southern Africa. Lawrence focused on explaining why it is important for African countries to develop comprehensive long-term strategies and of the countries that have developed these strategies, have they taken into account low emission and climate resilient food systems. Lawrence explained that information and what the LTS achieves for the stakeholders are valuable. It provides a long-term vision. Lawrence indicated that it is important for countries to include food systems into their Long-Term Strategies (LTS) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) because this is where Africa’s economies are. Long term strategies outline countries long-term vision and thus measures for food security should be tied to long term ambition for climate action.
The next speaker was Bernard Kimoro from Kenya’s State Department for livestock. Bernard looked at how Kenya is aiming to reduce the emissions from its livestock sector and the obstacles that limit the countries’ ability to set and implement long-term strategies in the sector. Bernard started the discussion by informing the audience that Kenya has launched 3 national documents. The first being the LTS 2022 – 2050, the second is the National Climate Change Action Plan 2022-2026 and the third was an amendment to the Climate Change Act which had now included Carbon Markets. Bernard explained that the Kenyan government aims to reduce emissions by 32% by 2030. To achieve this there are key sectors that are being targeted. In Kenya there are 7 priority sectors, including the food and nutrition (Agriculture) sector , with a particular focus on livestock.
Livestock in Kenya, it has the 6th largest herd of ruminants in Africa. Kenya is anticipating that the emissions from the livestock sub-sector will drastically increase. Currently the livestock sector in Kenya emits 95% of the overall emissions in the agricultural sector. In Kenya’s NDC, livestock is one of the key areas where emission reduction is targeted. Bernard expressed that there are challenges that hinders progress. There is an issue of data, there are vast amounts of data in Kenya. One of key success factors is how to consolidate the data to enable you to do the inventory of emissions within the country. Therefore, Kenya is developing a road map in the livestock sub-sector to fully understand what actions and policies that are needed to be put in place to create a clear direction on reducing emissions. In order to develop sectoral LTS requires adequate capacity, finance resources and a national LTS. Kenya’s agricultural sector is developing an LTS and has the benefit of a clear national LTS to align with.
The final speaker of the session was Irene Chekwoti from the Ministry of Water and Environment of Uganda. Irene touched on the measures Uganda has put in place to reduce emission in their agriculture sector and explained what the opportunities are to increase ambitions in long-term strategies. Overtime, Uganda’s agricultural productivity has declined. This is seen in the crop yields and the country is at risk of food insecurity. The livestock sector is growing which is resulting in increasing GHG emissions. Chekwoti explained that the government of Uganda has taken steps to mitigate GHG emissions. Last year Uganda developed two documents, one is the published NDC and other is the national LTS which is in the final stages of putting together, as well as an agricultural sector LTS. Uganda has a 2040 vision which is implemented through the National Development Plan. In the updated NDC, the Uganda government aims to implement a number of mitigation measures and strategies to reduce emissions in the agriculture sector. These include measures within climate smart agriculture and strategies around livestock manure management. Uganda’s in its final stages of finalizing the national LTS. In the LTS, the government is looking at key pillars which will aid the agriculture sector to transition to a climate resilient and low carbon society by 2050.
The actions that these pillars speak to are to include promotion of climate resilient and low carbon agriculture production, promotion of sustainable land management practices and nature-based solutions. Chekwoti explained that Uganda’s agriculture sector has come up with a LTS, specifically for the agriculture sector, to address issues of improving resilience whilst moving towards a low-carbon pathway. There is a draft agriculture LTS (that has been validated) which is housed by the Ministry of Agriculture. Uganda’s LTS in agriculture has a number of areas in the long-term to address climate action within the agriculture sector until 2050. The government is committing to develop a climate resilience and low carbon livestock sub-sector whilst strengthening the operationalisation of climate responsive agriculture extension services. Uganda has a MRV tool which helps track the interventions proposed. Irene mentioned that what is of utmost importance is the mobilization of financing to support the development of a climate resilient and low-carbon agriculture sector.
In closing of the session the panelist gave their final reflections on how increased climate ambitions can support food security. Dr. Betemariam expressed that agriculture is not only a source of emissions but a source of solutions. Soil organic carbon is important however many African countries have not implemented this into their NDCs. He stated that having robust monitoring systems and improving capacity of institutions are needed. Dr. Boateng expressed that what was discussed during this session should be translated onto the ground. Science-policy is critical in Africa and it’s important to bridge the gap to have a food secure future for Africa. Dr. Dossou-Yovo expressed that there are real synergies between GHG emissions , rice production, livestock and soil carbon. These synergies should be exploited but it is also important that everyone works together to build capacity. Dr. Arndt expressed that capacity to measure GHG systems within different regions is lacking and that more researchers from the global north are brought in due to not enough scientists to educate and build awareness within African systems. Miss Chekwoti expressed that the agricultural sector requires additional financial support. There is a need to utilize carbon markets and credits to create additional financing for the agriculture sector and the actions needed to be implemented.
AfCAP aims to continue engagements around increasing climate ambitions aligned with food security through our Livestock, Soil Organic Carbon and Rice Communities of Practice. If you would like more information on these activities please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org