INTERVIEW – COP27 should empower farmer ‘climakers’ for a healthier planet: WFO Secretary General

Ashraf Amin , Sunday 13 Nov 2022

Arianna Giuliodori, secretary general at World Farmers' Organisation (WFO), spoke to Ahram Online about the importance of empowering farmers across the globe to reduce carbon emission, secure food production and make a healthier planet.

arianna giuliodori


Ahram Online: Would you please give us a brief introduction about the WFO?

Arianna Giuliodori: We are an international organisation that was created in 2011 by farmers through their national farmers associations. Our aim is to give a voice to farmers in the global negotiations. We are based in Rome, Italy to be close to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organistation (FAO) that we collaborate with in several activities.

So far, we have 80 local farmers unions representing 55 different countries in the globe. Unfortunately, Egypt is not represented yet in our organisation and we hope it will be soon, but we have 30 farmers unions that represent Africa and the developing world. In general, we represent farmers of all sizes and all regions.

The key messages of our organisation are: firstly, farming is a business and it must be profitable. Secondly, farming is largely contributing to a healthier planet and healthy people and farmers are committed to drive change when it is needed.

AO: Why was the WFO keen to attend COP27?

AG: Our organisation leads the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) farmers constituency at COP27. We have a delegation of more than 120 farmers from all over the world and we believe that our role contributes to the solutions of climate change.

Agriculture is the only sector that can mitigate and adapt to climate change. It can also go beyond mitigation by generating a positive impact on nature. We are also here to ask the parties to firmly recognise agriculture in the climate negotiations and the implementation of the Paris agreement.

As you know we had before the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture, which was a landmark decision under the UNFCCC that recognises the unique potential of agriculture in tackling climate change. Unfortunately, it is coming to an end and it is unclear how to move on and the farmers of the world are asking the governments to transition to a specific body that can help with implementation of Paris agreement to specific regards to agriculture.

Farmers of the world see the climate challenge as one aspect of a much more complex set of challenges like food security, nutrition and biodiversity where farmers are at the heart of it. What we need now is a solid science basis that can boost farmers' efforts. We need more research on how much agriculture may store and reduce carbon emissions.

AO: What is the WFO message to the Egyptian farmers who suffer from extreme weather impacts on their olive trees productivity?

AG: Please preserve olive trees and do not take them out. Olive trees have always been the symbol of peace and history of agriculture in the Mediterranean region.

The matter that you raised is the same globally no matter whether a developed or developing nation has bigger or smaller farms, extreme weather events harm our trees and crops. We are all facing the same fight.

That is why we should raise our voice in this COP with the support of multi-stakeholders to empower the “climakers.” This is a term that we coined to highlight innovation in farming that is assessed by the scientific community and transformed into guidelines for policymakers on how to embrace commitments that are delivering the win-win-win approach.

Win for the policymakers, the agricultural sector and all the people who deserve a healthy planet.

We are happy to share here in the COP27 a set of guidelines and examples of best practices that are proposed by the farmers. So, from the Mediterranean region we are proposing simple and applicable solutions for harvesting and storing rainwater that could make a change. We also suggest combining traditional and new technologies in growing crops. As you may know, drones, sensors and the internet of things are currently implemented for early prediction of weather conditions and helping in making decisions during irrigation and farming.

AO: What are the common projects between WFO and FAO?

AG: FAO is a partner of WFO. We both recognise that the farmer's voice is fundamental to drive the transition to a sustainable food system and to win the climate change battle. We are keen that the knowledge sharing is successful and that we do propose solutions to farmers in their proper languages.

AO: What is your message to the nine million Egyptian farmers?

AG: Farmers should be proud of who they are as they are the reason why Egyptians have food on their table. I know how much they are suffering with climate change and market risks. I do believe that by joining forces at the global level we can drive change.

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