Last call to get climate deal right

by Sunita Narain
Centre for Science and Environment

We write this report knowing that the threat of climate change is real and urgent. We know this because we in South Asia are already seeing horrific impacts of changing weather, hitting the most poorest and most vulnerable. We strongly believe the world needs an effective and ambitious climate change deal. In this context we ask if the US climate action plan is ambitious, equitable or sufficient? We ask this because it is said that even if US Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) is not ambitious, it signals a change in the country’s position. And that it will build momentum in the future. The question is if the US is on track to make real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions?

Our assessment presents some inconvenient truths, which have worrying implications for our common future. The US climate plan is nothing more than business-as-usual; emission reductions will be marginal at best. What is even more worrying is that the US plan is largely based on improvement in efficiency. This is not enough. Our data analysis shows clearly that gains made by improvements in efficiency are being lost because of increased consumption – sector after sector.

As we explain in our preface to the report, our concern is US lifestyle and consumption patterns are aspirational and addictive. Quite simply, everybody wants to be an American. If it were possible to attain such a lifestyle and yet combat climate change, our concern would be unfounded. But we all know that is not possible. The world—the US and us—cannot combat climate change without changing the way we drive, build homes or consume goods. As we say it is time we accepted that the C-word is the C-word.

It is also important to realise that climate change demands we collaborate and act collectively. The US has to take the lead, point to the direction of change that must be credible and meaningful. Otherwise, the climate agreement will not fructify. The problem also is that the US lack of ambition means that it appropriates carbon space that is needed for development of poorer countries.

We have also pointed out our worry about the lack of critique, indeed the tendency towards self-censorship and restraint in advocating big solutions, we found in the work of big and powerful US civil society groups. For instance, these groups are asking—rightly—for car restraints in many parts of the developing world. But in the US, they still push fuel economy standards and, at most, hybrid cars as the panacea to climate ills. There is no bus rapid transit (BRT) being built in the US, where over 70-80 per cent people commute to work in cars. This is where practice must also happen, so that the world can follow and emissions reduce.

We know that this report will be received with some disquiet and even disapproval. But we believe that it is important that we work towards change that is real. The threat of climate change is far too serious and the impacts far too devastating for us to tiptoe around tough questions that will determine our future survival.

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APNFS Position Paper on World Food Day

Rationale

The Asia Pacific Network for Food Sovereignty (APNFS) joins the global population of farmers, fisherfolks and other communities of diverse people in remembering October 16 as World Food Day which this year recognizes the full potential of family farming as a flourishing cultural heritage in achieving global food security.

The theme of World Food Day 2014-“Family Farming- Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth” is a strong pronouncement to promote and protect family farmers who constitute over 500 million and have the significant role in feeding the world in the most efficient way while maintain the ecological balance of land and resources. The achievement of family farms throughout the generations has even proven its worth in the midst of intensifying hunger, malnutrition, poverty and inequality that are being compounded with factors such as climate change risks and environmental degradation.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stressed that family farming that is being operated and managed by a family, is an approach of organizing agricultural, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production that is predominantly reliant on family labour with significant involvement of both women and men.

The APNFS agrees with FAO that family farming is inextricably linked to national and global food security because as traditionally practised, family farmers carefully manage their lands with innovative land management techniques to sustain remarkably high levels of productivity despite having limited access to resources. Family farmers also act as custodians of food products while contributing to a balanced diet and safeguarding the world’s agro-biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources. Human civilization can testify that family farmers have achieved their superiority by maintaining this agricultural heritage in many successful ways.

 

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Recommendations on Strategies

for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization

As a network willing to engage on issues on agricultural mechanization towards sustainable development, APNFS would like to present the recommendations in reference to the High Level Multi-stakeholder Consultation on SAM in Bangkok, Thailand.

As an overview, we agree with FAO Asst. Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific Hiroyuki Konuma that while rapid agricultural mechanization has been successful in contributing to increasing food production, productivity and the enhancement of rural economies, the greatest challenge ahead is in making it sustainable. We agree that sustainable agricultural mechanization (SAM) must maximize the region’s natural resource base, must ensure environmental balance and protection of the food production systems.

May we add that the strategies toward SAM must incorporate the important roles of small farmers in the development of agriculture and mechanization, especially that they dominate the Asia Pacific region. The direction of SAM must complement the goal for sustainable food and farming systems by decreasing rural poverty through the increase in food security and improvement of rural livelihoods. This is also to mention that the meaning of global food security and national food sovereignty is to end the marginalization of farmers-producers in developing countries that is widespread in Asia Pacific. In this case, the function of SAM is to empower these marginalized agricultural communities.

We believe that the basic principle of sustainable agriculture significantly underscores the relevant contribution and full potential of small farmers in agricultural development whose diverse agro-ecological method remains a way forward to avert hunger and current food crisis by responding to the local food needs of communities and nations. The benefit of SAM should address their sustainability and development goals. What is also necessary is the investment in science and technology that supports these agro-ecological farming methods and that promotes knowledge sharing to the advantage of these farmers. The social development context of sustainable agriculture includes the subsidy for small-scale agriculture in terms of capital financing, access to credit, price and inputs subsidy, among others.

  1. Beyond the country-specific approach of SAM, the development of mechanization strategies and policies must more so be community-specific in recognition that there is a big difference in the level of agricultural mechanization across the region.
  • It is very important to conduct local or community-level consultation with active participation of smallholder farmers as technology users in the problem identification and the planning process on SAM
  • The identification of energy-efficient and environmentally-sound machinery needs should be community specific.
  • Governments has the responsibility to organize the dialogue/ consultation with farmers in partnership with civil society organizations (CSOs) which directly work with farmers and with track record of organizing farmers consultation, in order to efficiently deliver the objectives.

 

  1. Agricultural mechanization should be across the value chain and community-driven

 

  • There is important consideration that current agricultural machinery needs of farmers in Asia Pacific has gone beyond the planting phase, especially that more farmers are now engaged into sustainable, diversified or organic farming. There is presently a wide range of sustainable agricultural mechanization (SAM) needs in the post-harvest until the marketing stage of farmers’ products. In other words, the growing machinery needs of farmers across countries have already moved forward beyond tractorization.
  • Capacity building should be integral in the SAM planning process. Given this, skills development of small farmers is necessary. Agriculture education scholarship for farmers is one way to enhance their capacity building. On the other hand, there should be a keen consideration on the different capacity level of small farmers to adopt modern tools.
  • Improvement of SAM should increase participation of farmers-producers and encourage younger generations to engage in sustainable farming.
  • Agricultural mechanization must be inclusive of gender. The over-all strategy must also contribute to the empowerment of women farmers by improving their labor productivity, farm labor condition, economic capacity, and well-being.

 

 

  1. SAM can be a strategy to recognize the multi-functionality of agriculture which is a highlight of the IAASTD[1] Report, initiated by FAO and World Bank along with other UN bodies and that was approved in 2008 by more than 50 governments around the world.

 

IAASTD Report:

  • The concept of multi-functionality of agriculture recognizes agriculture as a multi-output activity producing not only commodities, but also non-commodity output such as environmental services, landscape amenities and cultural heritages.
  • Farming has a diversity of environmental and social functions. Nations and peoples have the right to democratically determine their best food and agricultural policies.
  • Farming is a site not only for food production, but as a foundation for communities, economies and a host of ecological relationships.
  • In some cases, opportunities lie in those small-scale farming systems that have high water, nutrient and energy use efficiencies and conserve natural resources and biodiversity without sacrificing yield.
  • An increase and strengthening of agricultural knowledge, science and technology towards agroecological sciences will contribute to addressing environmental issues while maintaining and increasing productivity

 

  1. Actual field operation of small farmers on available agricultural machineries can significantly contribute to the progress of ANTAM (Asian Network for Testing Agricultural Machinery).
  • While passing the test based on international standards, an effective way of checking the appropriateness of agricultural machineries is by knowing from the farmers themselves if these are their needed machineries.
  • Community participation in the evaluation or testing can contribute to the substantial assessment report. Small farmers’ own experiences in handling and managing the machineries are valuable source of information for ANTAM. They as technology users can testify if the agricultural machineries have addressed their specific needs and have contributed to improving their agricultural productivity, economic standing and sustainability.

 

  1. Cooperative farming systems can benefit more on SAM
  • Putting into context that there are still many marginalized farming communities in the Asia Pacific region, smallholder farmers organized into cooperatives can best benefit from and manage sustainable machineries.
  • Farmers can benefit from SAM through collective machinery ownership. This is possible when a cooperative invests on the needed machinery that will be utilized by its members.

 

  1. Corporate accountability should be integral in SAM
  • Upholding the framework of sustainable development, it should be emphasized that corporations especially those involved in the manufacturing of agricultural machineries have the social obligation to respect farmers’ rights and welfare.
  • Corporations should bear in mind that under the SAM framework, the objective of producing agricultural machineries is not for profit accumulation but to contribute to the empowerment of farmers and in improving their lives and better their future.
  1. Tapping the social assets of CSOs can help respond to the issues concerning the development of SAM such as in R&D, capacity building, advocacy and policy development for agricultural mechanization.
  • There are several CSOs in the Asia Pacific region which directly work with farmers and with a proven track record on handling these issues. In fact, there are countries where the Farmer Field School (FFS) is institutionalized by governments in partnership with NGOs. This FFS trains farmers to become farmer-scientists in the pursuit of sustainable agriculture.
  • Governments can tap the expertise of experienced CSOs in the development of R&D, education and training, advocacy, policy work. Scanning of potential NGOs/ CSOs
  • working on these issues should be considered.
  • Participation of farmers in adaptive research and policy development on SAM should be in place

 

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UNHCR Resolution on TNC’s

Human Rights Council
Twenty-sixth session
Agenda item 3
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights,
including the right to development

Bolivia (Plurinational State of),* Cuba, Ecuador,* South Africa, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of): draft resolution

26/… Elaboration of an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights

The Human Rights Council,

Recalling the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations,

Recalling also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

Recalling further the Declaration on the Right to Development, adopted by the General Assembly through its resolution 41/128 on 4 December 1986,

Recalling Commission on Human Rights resolution 2005/69 of 20 April 2005, in which the Commission established the mandate of Special Representative of the Secretary- General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, and all previous Human Rights Council resolutions on the issues of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, including Council resolutions 8/7 of 18 June 2008 and 17/4 of 16 June 2011,

Bearing in mind the approval of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 17/4,

Taking into account all the work undertaken by the Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Council on the question of the responsibilities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises1 with respect to human rights …

Click HERE to download UNCHR RESOLUTION on TNCs full document