Biovision at the Climate Conference in Bonn

FTTR: Fabio Leippert (Biovision Project Manager Advocacy and Policy), Nancy Rapando (Biovision Focal Point CCGA in Kenya/Expert Climate Change), Veronica Ndetu (Head of Climate Change Unit, Ministry Of Agriculture, Kenya)


A personal report by Fabio Leippert, Project Manager Advocacy and Policy

On my return from COP 23 Fiji, the UN Climate Change Conference held in foggy Germany, I was asked how it was and in particular what the entire circus had achieved. Neither question is easy to answer. What I do know is that my brain is still buzzing with the huge array of impressions, discussions, faces and ideas. Below is an initial attempt to some my thoughts into some semblance of order.

First and most important message:  The Conference, which was attended by some 30,000 delegates from every country in the world, brought together people from very diverse cultures and professional backgrounds. They devoted all their energies to one of the greatest challenges facing humanity: global warming. This joint endeavour in pursuit of a single goal gives me grounds for hope as solutions to the problems require global cooperation, trust and mutual understanding. There was much discussion on the fine detail of the measures required to limit the rise in global temperatures to the 2Celsius agreed in Paris in 2015; this is essential if we are to curb global warming. This work formed part of the preparations for the next conference in 2018, at which the principles of the new agreement are to be thrashed out.

Second positive message: The Conference achieved a significant breakthrough in agriculture - our main priority. This brought to an end an almost 5-year stalemate meaning that at long last climate negotiations will extend to agriculture, including potential solutions. In the past, agriculture had for all intents and purposes been excluded even though it is a crucial factor in climate change and its impact. Also positive was the fact that several high-level panels are now clearly stressing the role of agro-ecology – something that would have been inconceivable a few years ago.

We need integrated strategies to combat hunger

In order to link action by the agricultural sector on global warming to action on global food security (SDG2), we need a comprehensive transition to agro-ecological methods. This was the Biovision focus in Bonn and it will remain our focus in future.  During wide ranging discussions with other conference delegates, I was able to present the Biovision approach to the required change of direction in agriculture as well as discuss ways in which that change could be encouraged. It needs to be recognised that the knowledge and needs of local smallholders – the main group affected by climate change – are key components of any measures designed to solve the problems. This should include many of the tried-and-tested solutions used by Biovision, which have already benefited hundreds of thousands of people in sub-Sahara Africa, in particular increasing their resilience to the effects of climate change. I had an excellent opportunity to present this view at a Side-Event “Speed up the cool down” held at the Head Office of IFOAM Organics on Wednesday, 15 November. The event provided an opportunity to find out about other innovative projects and benefit from an exchange of best practice.

I returned from my 8-day visit to attend COP23 armed with many new contacts, enriching experiences and inspiration but in particular with increased optimism and motivation for my daily work.