Press release from the Gaia Foundation. Monday 18 November 2013

[Warsaw, Poland] Adaptation in agriculture cannot happen without financial support, is the bleak message from developing countries at the UN climate negotiations in Poland this week.

Negotiations on Agriculture ended on Saturday without a formal decision to move the discussions forward. Developed countries blamed developing countries’ apparent reluctance to progress discussions. However developing countries identified the lack of funds for adaptation, and the pressure for them to open their farming up to failing carbon markets as the real cause of the stalemate.

In a workshop earlier in the week, every country from Brazil to Bangladesh, Ireland to Egypt, and Switzerland to Sri Lanka, had emphasised how climate change was impacting their agriculture, and that adaptation strategies were urgently needed to ensure the livelihoods and food security of people in every region.

As Teresa Anderson of the Gaia Foundation observed, “The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report that 75% of the world’s crop diversity has been lost in recent decades. But without seed diversity, farmers can’t spread their risk to unpredictable climate events, or breed new varieties to adapt. If we do not take action to revive seed diversity in the hands of farmers, food systems and future generations will have a dangerously narrow gene pool from which to adapt, farm and eat.”

However the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Adaptation Fund is almost empty. Developed countries have not followed through on financial commitments, without which developing countries see limited opportunities for real progress.

In spite of their financial foot-dragging, developed countries aimed to press ahead with agriculture negotiations in Warsaw. Many are keen for developing countries to adopt agricultural strategies that can mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. It is often suggested that such activities might earn projects carbon credits.

Farmers, developing countries and NGOs are not convinced however. “Carbon markets are collapsing around the world. For example a ton of carbon in the EU’s emissions trading scheme is now worth €4.5, down from a peak of €31. Pilot soil carbon offset projects in Africa are earning farmers a shocking $1 to $5 per year. Anyone suggesting that soil carbon markets are a solution for adaptation, farmers’ livelihoods or food security, is either naïve or cynical.” Anderson added.

“Developed countries shouldn’t force Africa to mitigate in our own agriculture, when we have not caused the problem in the first place. If the agriculture discussions had gone ahead on developed countries’ terms, developing countries would have had nothing to win, and everything to lose.” Explained Ruth Nyambura of the African Biodiversity Network.

“We need to figure out a way to adapt our agriculture, build the capacity of our farmers and institutions, adopt early warning systems, and implement a range of strategies to save our food systems from climate change. We are already displacing scarce resources to do this, because developed countries have failed to follow through on their clear financial commitments. The UN’s Adaptation Fund is on its knees. We hope that developed countries can fulfil their promises here in Warsaw, so that we can all see real progress in adapting our agriculture to climate change.” Said Seyni Nafo, spokesperson for the Africa Group “We need to ensure that our communities can continue to eat in the face of climate change. The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.”


– COP19 Agriculture discussions ended in the early hours of Sunday morning, with agreement to only discuss issues around science and knowledge about agriculture at the UNFCCC’s SBSTA meeting in June, instead of undertaking political negotiations.

– The report “Seeds for Life: scaling up agro-biodiversity” by The Gaia Foundation, The African Biodiversity Network and The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance highlights how farming will not be able to adapt without seed diversity. The report is available online at:

– Current and recent carbon prices can be viewed at

– A recent statement by farmers’ organisation “Climate Summit: don’t turn farmers into ‘climate smart’ carbon traders!” can be viewed here: