This week I made the epic trip outside the village gates, onto one bus and then another bus, and into London. To Parliament, oh yes. Through security and having our photos taken for the visitor pass, and through the enormous old hall, up the stone stairs, into a Committee Room with plush carpets on the walls, and media darling and general hero at life Jon Snow.
This was a meeting entitled 'COP17: Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security', with some oh-so-distinguished speakers: Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, who's done a whole load of very interesting things; David Nabarro, UN Secretary General's Special Representative on Food Security and Nutrition, and; Melinda Kimble, Senior Vice President at the UN Foundation.
The speakers talked, and everyone listened carefully, nodding their heads in quiet agreement. The COP17 meeting begins at the end of this month in Durban, South Africa, and this was a plea for real action; a shout that we need to work towards a legally binding agreement long-term, and multiple agreements between different interested countries short-term. Agriculture must be put on the COP17 map in the same way that forestry already has been.
Giddy over the turnout of people that had some of us standing round the edges, or sat squat on the carpeted floor, they hammered home that these are choices, and that there must be a greater sense of accountability in decisions. Climate change and agricultural policy must be brought together, we must give special attention to women due to their key role in food matters globally, and agriculture must become "climate smart". Civil society and business are most probably the ones that will need to make the most noise, pulling reluctant governments along with them, urging them to leadership that is "transformative" rather than "transactional". And the media must wake up to climate change again, having falling asleep on the issue after the failures of COP16.
Good speakers, good arguments and a good feeling that if we work damn hard at this and make all the noise that we can, something could just about be done. But more inspiring, perhaps, we the comments; a sign that these speakers were preaching to the converted. I felt a wave of excitement as audience member Sir Crispin Tickell barked that we shouldn't feel we have to believe what the politicians say about the market being the solution for this mess. It's not, he said, and markets will not solve things; we need more intelligent solutions. My recent forrays into Permaculture fantasy were echoed by another comment and by Melinda Kimble; that we need more No-Till agriculture and more perennials, to keep that carbon right where it is, rather than digging and replanting.
Agriculture and climate change need to stop their feet back onto our agenda, and it is us, civil society and normal people, that have to make a noise about this. Action is needed right bloody now.
This post is proud to be part of Fight Back Friday November 4th at Food Renegade. Have a look!