It was a pleasure to attend COP27 in Egypt, where I had the opportunity to speak on behalf of UK farmers, as well as those from all from around the world. There is huge potential within the agricultural sector to address climate issues and it was important to engage with decision makers to ensure our voice is heard and recognised.
Concerns over food security have been high on the agenda at COP27, set against a backdrop of prolonged droughts, and flooding, as well as conflict in Europe.
Discussions centred on the looming famine in already struggling countries, and the challenges faced by farming systems to adapt to extreme situations including the costs and availability of fertiliser.
It was rightly so that agriculture and food systems have continued to be a central theme.
Recognising the role of trees
I had a fantastic conversation with Loureen Awuor of the KENAFF (Kenya National Farmers Federation) where we discussed the role of agro-forestry in Kenya. Kenya certainly has a more enlightened approach to tree planting, where they are planting the right tree in the right place, with the approach being defined and led by farmers.
New plantings in Kenya consist of 50% native trees, 30% fruit & fibre trees and 20% exotic trees. These trees must have a defined purpose with non-native, exotic trees being ring-fenced for commercial purposes, not restoration.
This approach has helped farmers adapt to increasingly difficult weather with failed rains. Many female farmers have also been able to build businesses by utilising fruit and fibre trees, particularly to support livestock when in prolonged drought.
I was given the opportunity to speak at COP27 on the potential of environmental markets for farmers, and how a scalable solution that works alongside agriculture could operate. I was able to outline the NFU's key principles necessary for successful environmental markets as part of this.
Negotiations kickstart at Koronivia
I attended the KJWA (Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture) negotiations with Jenny Brunton, Senior European Policy Advisor in our Brussels office, who spoke to the world’s negotiators on the need to conclude the current negotiations.
Discussions must move forwards so the focus can be on implementation to give farmers the opportunity to plan practical actions to address the climate crisis.
A global farmers' market
Farmers are a constituency recognised by the UNFCCC (United Framework Convention on Climate Change) and this group is headed up by our very own NFU climate change adviser, Ceris Jones, who chaired a daily morning meeting during COP.
These meetings provided a great opportunity to hear from farmers from around the world about the issues they face, discuss the events and negotiations of the previous day, and plan our engagement for the day ahead.
We approached this COP with a strong, diverse and united voice for global farmers.
By bringing together a platform of farming representatives from around the world at COP27, I had the opportunity to meet with a number of fellow farming union presidents and other industry leaders to discuss key issues impacting our food systems.
Farmers worldwide face many of the same issues and we are united in ensuring farming is valued as a solution to many climate challenges.
Discussions were had on the use of accurate science, different production methods, member representation, and overall, that food security must be central in agricultural policy.