Another climate conference ends - what results for smallholders?
I travelled to Doha with Fairtrade producer representatives from four different regions, all struggling with climate change on a daily basis. For them, the lack of progress at this year’s talks was bemusing, and frustrating.
“I am disappointed because we have put so much hope in finance and they are not making a decision, said Chief Adam Tampuri, a cashew nut producer and Chair of Fairtrade Africa. “I am surprised that the countries who have often helped us in times of disaster and famine are still hesitating to make finance for climate adaptation available. Surely we need to be engaging in preventative measures, instead of reacting when the damage is done?”
On a political level, little came out of the Doha talks to offer farmers or developing countries any cheer. There were no commitments from developed countries to cut their emissions further. There is still no significant money being put on the table to help developing countries adapt (despite a target of $100 billion a year by 2020). Even the impassioned plea of the Philippines negotiator, made as his country was battered by the umpteenth typhoon this year, did not lead to a shift in mind-set.
But away from the disappointment of the negotiations, there are many initiatives that give cause for hope.
At side events, in interviews and at round-table discussions, Fairtrade producers brought their real-life climate change experiences to the table. Tomy Mathew explained how fair prices for a whole range of Fairtrade products mean that farmers diversify, protecting variety and increasing their resilience to climate change. Carlos Vargas spoke passionately about the huge potential for hydroelectricity on coffee farms in Costa Rica, and his dream of making them all energy self-sufficient. Chief Adam shared the indigenous methods his cashew farmers are using to adapt to climate change. Each has a vision for their community and country. Each of them is connected to thousands of farmers and people in their villages and in their communities. If they just had some more cash and technical assistance they would implement measures in a shot.
Our new collaboration with The Gold Standard Foundation will give these producers welcome opportunities to benefit from the carbon market, and access finance that will help them carry out more carbon mitigation projects. We also secured backing from a group of European politicians in our call for more adaptation funds for smallholders.
And though this COP is over, our engagement certainly isn’t. We will continue to lobby governments, seek adaptation and mitigation finance and support our farmers in the fight against climate change.
Vicky Pauschert works in the communications department at Fairtrade International.