Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

Water conspicuous by its absence at UNFCCC session on agriculture

Eklavya Prasad

While reading the daily program I got attracted to a session in which contact group were to discuss on issues relating to agriculture at the Reger room. This was my first experience of witnessing a negotiation between the parties. The contact group was there to discuss on issues concerning agriculture listed under SBSTA 36 agenda item nine. 

 
The process began with the Chairperson circulating a draft conclusion for discussion before finalizing the way forward. Immediately, the entire group split into two and huddled into two different sections of the same room. One group was huge whereas the other had handful of people. The manner in which the discussion was being held in these two groups was interesting to observe. The larger group, despite its sheer numbers had urgency in their interaction, on the other hand the smaller group looked far more controlled. 
 
The larger group, despite its sheer numbers had urgency in their interaction, on the other hand the smaller group looked far more controlled
 
Interestingly, few members in the second group were having the discussion while sitting on their designated seats, but soon it changed as the number of people increased. By the end of the discussion, there was a third group that got formed and it seemed to me as more like a intermediary between the previous two groups. With the formation of the third group, the physical gap between all three reduced substantially. This development indicated a whole lot of dynamics that was running amok inside the room. After spending almost close to 45 minutes discussing about the draft conclusion proposed by the Chairperson, the parties reconvened and shared their views on the draft. 
 
This development indicated a whole lot of dynamics that was running amok inside the room
 
The discussion was initiated by representative from Bolivia, and the beginning itself was clear, crisp, and concentrated. The points raised by the Bolivian representative were actually an outcome of the huddle discussion which was amid the G 77 and China. The views of the G 77 and China on agriculture incorporated the following issues: 
  • Omission of adaptation as a strategy from the agriculture discourse is disappointing
  • Adaptation as a strategy is far more contextual for individual nations rather than mitigation
  • National perspective should be the priority, hence local and national food security should be emphasized more than the global scenario in order to bring about effective change
  • The discussion and draft conclusions proposed by the Chairperson was considered non-contextual 
  • The suggestion to prioritize mitigation activities, develop links between national, regional and global actions, global food security and generate resources and mechanisms required for ‘greening’ agricultural production were not accepted in totality. The issue of adaptation, localization, dovetailing cultural practices in present day agricultural practices were far more emphasized
  • An effort should be made to make the paper far more inclusive by capturing views and opinions of most of the concerned parties
Whereas the remaining parties were of the opinion that
  • Adaptation is not the only way forward, instead adaptation, mitigation, global food security should go hand in hand
  • It is crucial to include mitigation and its allied strategies while addressing agriculture 
  • Adaptation cannot be the only way forward because the approach is regressive rather than progressive hence it ought to be balanced with another strategy which should be mitigation
  • Global perspective should not be compromised, despite the challenges at the national and local level
Despite the intense debate on adaptation and mitigation, the issue that was most conspicuous by its absence in the discussion was water. It was incomprehensible as to how a discussion on agriculture across ecological settings could proceed without any mention about water.
 
The Chairperson summarized the meeting  by requesting the parties to submit their reactions/responses by the end of the day. 
 
The second engagement for me was my interaction with Karin Lexen and Karin Glaumann. I must admit that this interaction has really changed my perception regarding the Bonn Climate Change Talks. Karin Lexen's experience and incessant work in this area helped me a great deal to develop a comprehension about the negotiations. The interaction brought all three of us on the same page and working hereon should be exciting. For next couple of days, we have developed a basic functional framework, and I am sure that too will evolve as we move ahead...
 
This is just the beginning, there will be lots to share in the coming days, but as I sign off, a realization has hit me hard  that there is disguised, minimal or no mention of water at the talks. A definite issue to explore and pursue.
 
This is just the beginning, there will be lots to share in the coming days, but as I sign off, a realization has hit me hard  that there is disguised, minimal or no mention of water at the talks. A definite issue to explore and pursue.
 
Eklavya Prasad is a FANSA member and Practitioner and Leader at Megh Pyne Abhiyan (Cloud Water Campaign)
 

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