What impact will the Paris Agreement have on global agriculture?

UN-Paris-Agreement-Earth-DayUN Messenger of Peace, Leonardo Dicaprio, addresses the opening segment of the Paris Agreement signature ceremony. UN Photo/Mark Garten

In a symbolic nod to Earth Day 2016, the Paris Agreement was signed by over 170 countries during a historic ceremony at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, four months after it was finalized at the Paris Climate Change Conference. The replacement for the Kyoto Protocol is significant, because both the US and China, which together account for over 35% of global emissions, took part of the signing.

The Paris Agreement is widely considered the most dramatic reform in climate change policy in history. The treaty seeks to avoid catastrophic climate change by limiting warming to 1.5C to 2C, resulting in near-unanimous praise from environmental groups worldwide.

Addressing the needs of agriculture

But what impact, if any, will the Paris Agreement have for food and farming? There is specific reference within the agreement that states “the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change”. According to the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), increased funding and political support will be needed to ensure that the Paris Agreement is properly executed, particularly in developing countries. Despite the agreement’s financing mandate of $100 billion USD each year, individual funding recommendations or further binding requirements have not been mandated to individual countries.

Beyond the Paris Agreement

Various industries within agriculture have already been swift in action to address climate change concerns. Well ahead of the Paris Agreement, the Global Crop Diversity Trust was created in Germany in 2004, to ensure that crop diversity and seed conservation are well maintained in local markets. Dupont Pioneer announced this week that it was continuing its collaboration with the organization by pledging additional funding upwards of $250,000.

Seed trade conferences have long been a forum for growers and suppliers to connect with potential partners and address concerns on general demand and crop production. Climate change has also been a topic of recent events, particularly those from the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA).

Collaboration within the agriculture value chain

The 2013 KPMG report titled The Agriculture and Food Value Chain: Entering a New Era of Cooperation summarizes that greater collaboration throughout the agriculture value chain is needed to best combat against climate change, as well as other obstacles spurred by technology advancements and biofuel demands. While the impact of climate change differs by region, the impact on global crop production is still uncertain. Despite this, environmental considerations still play an integral part in long-term strategies affecting crop cultivation.

The report goes on to state that because of these rising complexities throughout the value chain, collaboration brings significant advantages, such as greater visibility, potential cost savings, increased access to new resources and innovation. Of course, while the need for collaboration in agriculture is clear, identifying the right partner efficiently and executing on a win-win partnership for all parties involved will require planning in order to be effective. For these new agriculture challenges comes new technology solutions that disrupts the conventional way of doing business and help all parts along the agriculture value chain to better collaborate.