Africa's farmers ignored at COP27 climate talk


A farm worker sprays a potato farm with pesticides and herbicides in Elburgon, Nakuru County in this photo taken on November 17, 2022. 

Photo credit: John Njoroge | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The rich countries of the Global North have failed to fulfil their 2016 $100 billion-a-year adaptation funding pledge.
  • African small-scale farmers are deeply disappointed that the COP27 decision on agriculture failed to develop any concrete implementation actions.

As the dust settles in Sharm El-Sheikh, Africa has little reason to rejoice. Africa and the Global South can take some hope from the small gains made at COP27. At the last minute, negotiators agreed to provide “loss and damage” funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters.

But we have heard these promises before. The rich countries of the Global North have failed to fulfil their 2016 $100 billion-a-year adaptation funding pledge.

AFSA members came to COP27 with a clear demand to put agroecology at the centre of agricultural and adaptation discussions, place farmers’ needs at the centre of adaptation, and focus on new, accessible, and predictable adaptation finance. But the international climate negotiation community once again sidelined the voices of Africa’s small-scale farmers at COP27 in Egypt. Farmers’ calls for a shift to agroecology as the obvious choice for low-cost climate action and resilience went unheard.

“It was very disturbing to see a large contingent of corporate lobbyists influencing the process while small-scale farmers have been shut out and drowned out from this COP27. Farmers demanded recognition for diverse, resilient farming, agroecology and climate finance, but they leave with very little,” Dr Million Belay, AFSA General Coordinator and panel expert with IPES-Food, said.

Greenhouse gas emissions

African civil society is hugely disappointed that the powerful, rich countries are backtracking on previous commitments to the 1.5C target and to reducing the use of fossil fuels, even rebranding fossil gas as a ‘low emission energy source’. As Africa is warming at twice the global rate, this leaves the continent on the front line of the onslaught of the climate crisis – one of several crises created outside its shores.

Bridget Mugambe, AFSA’s Program Coordinator and focal person for the climate and agroecology working group said, “Africa is feeling the effects of the climate emergency every day, with rising temperatures, droughts and floods already hitting small-scale farmers and women hard. To sustain our livelihoods and feed communities, we are forced to adapt – yet we are receiving negligible funds from the international community. Small-scale farmers across Africa are calling on the international community to recognize the potential of agroecology and invest in African-led solutions to the climate crisis.”

African small-scale farmers are deeply disappointed that while the COP27 decision on agriculture strengthened understanding of the massive role of food and farming in greenhouse gas emissions, it failed to develop any concrete implementation actions.

“Instead of the urgent transformative action required to address the climate crisis, we are left with vague commitments and promises to invest in ‘climate-smart’ food systems in Africa. We will never solve the climate crisis with the same mindset that caused it. We require a just transition away from high-emitting industrial agriculture, corporate food system monopolies, and false climate solutions, and toward agroecology,” Sena Alouka, Executive Director of Young Volunteers for the Environment remarked.