Promoting solutions and innovations at COP 22

ICARDA Director General, Mr. Aly Abousabaa (third from left), listens as the Center's Board Chair, Dr. Margret Thalwitz, addresses the audience at a COP 22 side-event

ICARDA strategically engaged with decision makers and other key players at COP 22. The Center used this major international meeting to promote the role of science in climate change adaptation. 

COP 22 offered an opportunity for the international community to demonstrate progress towards implementing the Paris Agreement. ICARDA used the meeting as a platform to promote the solutions it has developed with partners through years of scientific exploration and practical on-farm experience, and to engage with policy makers, donors, and the private sector.

The Center organized or played a leading role in six sessions and used these fora to communicate several key messages related to dryland agriculture: tried and tested technologies are available and have a proven ability to raise production, improve livelihoods and nutritional security; enabling policies are needed to bridge the gap between science and implementation; and diversification can build resilience and support climate change adaptation.   

A diverse agenda

During a packed agenda, ICARDA representatives contributed to discussions around a genetic resource strategy for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region; resilient soil management strategies to enhance agriculture in Africa; the role science and technology can play in climate change adaptation; and the potential for date palm production to strengthen resilience.

ICARDA contributions at one event exploring practical ways of reviving Africa’s soils informed the development of a new initiative — Adaptation of African Agriculture to Climate Change — which provides a concrete framework that will be applied across the continent to guide climate action for all African countries.

Climate change adaptation across the MENA region

At another session, ICARDA responded to two major questions confronting the agricultural sector in the MENA region: with a rapidly growing population to feed, can the region produce enough food to reduce its increasing reliance on imports? And, is the region prepared to address the threat posed by climate change to its food and nutritional security?

The Center’s Director General, Mr. Aly Abousabaa, part of a panel of science and policy experts, stressed the need for greater investment in the agricultural sector to improve water use efficiency, support the expansion of irrigation, and develop new infrastructure.

In addition, the panel called for policy reform: the removal of subsidies that encourage the over-use and waste of already scarce water, and the removal of obstacles that prevent the release of new improved cultivars and technologies. Diversification, according to Abousabaa, is also a key farming strategy, and strengthens the resilience of dryland communities in the face of rapid climate change.

Promoting sustainable solutions    

Discussions provided an opportunity to promote the results of ICARDA’s research over the past four decades to an engaged and highly influential audience. The solutions relevant to the discussions at COP 22 included: heat-tolerant wheat varieties that are capable of enhancing food security under new climate change scenarios; Orobanche-resistant faba bean varieties which are reviving production in Egypt; raised-bed planting which has helped to enhance water productivity; conservation agriculture; and diversified barley-livestock production linked to dairy and meat value chains.