United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has convened a climate summit in New York on September 23rd. This Summit is not part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, but an emergency gathering to address the accelerating global climate crisis. Civil society will also be mobilizing in New York. A number of major events and mobilizations are planned, including the People’s Climate March and Global Climate Convergence.
Missing in large part however from both the UN and civil society mobilizations is the critical and hopeful message that small organic farmers and pastoralists can cool the planet and feed the world. The industrial food system accounts for approximately 30-50% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Recent reports have demonstrated that small farmers, practicing organic and agroecological farming practices not only feed the majority of the world with less than one quarter of global farmland, but are actively sequestering carbon.
Small farmers and pastoralists are extremely vulnerable to unfair trade agreements, collapsing financial markets, the global push agriculture fuels, land grabs, the expansion of speculation of the food market, the privatization of genetic resources, among other threats. Current prevailing policies and practices in trade, land use, energy use, and patent law favor large-scale agribusinesses that contribute to climate change while making it more difficult for small-scale sustainable farmers to stay on the land where they are able to produce food for the world and mitigate climate change.