This month, world leaders gathered in Paris to agree a new deal on climate change. CABI delegates attended this historic COP21 Climate Conference, raising awareness about agriculture and the environment, and the challenges facing the world’s rural communities and smallholder farmers. We share some of the highlights of CABI’s participation in the event.
On 8 December, CABI CEO, Dr Trevor Nicholls, addressed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and called for urgent support to help farmers adapt to global warming.
In many parts of the developing world, particularly Africa and South Asia, agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for the majority of people. Yet climate change is making it harder to be a farmer and more difficult for farmers to feed the world’s growing population.
Reflecting growing concern amongst CABI’s member countries and the international community, Dr Nicholls highlighted three implications of climate change that pose serious threats to agriculture and biodiversity worldwide:
- Existing crop pests and diseases like coffee rust, which we know how to control, are becoming more aggressive as a result of temperature and humidity changes.
- Known weeds, insects, microbes and invasive species spreading to new areas, countries and regions as changing conditions create new habitats for them, causing problems for farmers and land managers unfamiliar with these pests. These introduced pests will cause far more damage than they do in their present indigenous range.
- New pests or diseases, such as Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease, arise and thrive as the climate changes.
Dr Nicholls commented: “We need to move now to help farmers adapt. Some farmers are innovating and we can learn from them. We can help many others, often with very simple techniques and tools that, in partnership with others, we are assembling, testing, adapting and testing again, for example, with soil fertility management, access to climate resilient seed varieties and the deployment biological control against pests.”
Dr Nicholls highlighted how CABI is helping to tackle challenges facing the world’s rural communities and smallholders with science-based development projects and knowledge-sharing and initiatives like Plantwise.