Is “Climate-Smart Agriculture” A Cover up For Earth’s Worst Offenders

By Sasha Pei-Silovo – EM TV Online 

With climate change being a global focus, and affecting agriculture the world over, the concept of climate-smart agriculture seems like a positive move forward for the industry. However, reports are now revealing that there is growing opposition against the concept by global food movement organisations.

Concerns over the climate-smart agriculture concept are being raised at all levels; with many sharing sentiments that the term is ‘being used to green-wash products’ that are damaging for farming and for the climate, and many are extremely worried that encouraging the use of the concept could prove fatal – doing more harm than good for both climate change and agriculture.

Experts say that there aren’t any significant criteria for what can or cannot be called climate smart. They argue that there is nothing to determine that the climate-smart term relates to practises that are, in actuality, smart for the climate and smart for agriculture.

They also argue that the ‘looseness’ of the term enables anyone, for that matter, to engage its use in describing their activities, regardless of the real impact ‘these activities’ may have on climate and agriculture.

These concerns by food movement organisations come to light as an increasing number of world governments, civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, corporations, among others, begin to turn their focus on the new concept and terminology – climate-smart agriculture.

Last month’s United Nations secretary general’s climate summit in New York saw the US President address the summit on the need for climate-smart crops. The summit also saw the announcing of the new Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture by Dutch PM, Mark Rutte, which would involve governments, corporations, institutes of research and NGOs.

In response to this announcement, over a hundred civil society organisations made their stance on the matter by signing a letter rejecting the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture. The letter states that “industrial agriculture approaches that increase greenhouse gas emissions are all welcome to use the climate-smart label to promote their practices as solutions to climate change”.

This comes at a time when the world’s largest corporation Walmart and McDonalds, users of two per cent of the world’s beef, announced their use of ‘climate-smart’ initiatives with advocators of climate-smart agriculture claiming that the two corporations are aiming to achieve a “triple win” of “increasing food security, adaptation and mitigation”.

The opposing civil society organisations think otherwise, by stating “Yara (the world’s largest fertiliser manufacturer), Syngenta (GM seeds), McDonald’s, and Walmart are all at the climate-smart table.  Climate-smart agriculture will serve as a new promotional space for the planet’s worst social and environmental offenders in agriculture.”

It’s being pointed out the very agribusinesses that have caused significant damage, by spawning climate change and endangering food systems and farmers by leaving them in peril. They are now using the climate-smart agriculture term at will, and re-branding their activities; when in fact, the impacts of their activities speak otherwise.

La Via Campesina, the world’s largest peasant farmers’ movement is also adamant that the concept is an effort to push the agendas of agribusinesses under a green mask.

According to Teresa Anderson of ActionAid International, there is great need for systematic change to deal with climate change and agriculture or the impacts of agriculture on climate change and so forth. “It’s hard to envision that the corporations leading the climate-smart charge are really aiming for localised, low-input, agro ecological food systems that they would no longer control.

“We must avoid opening the door to false solutions under vague ‘climate-smart’ rhetoric. Instead, we must be specific about investing in real resilience through agro ecological adaptation solutions to climate change”, she states.


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