[Column] Mansoor Hamayun: Why smallholder farmers should be top of the bill at COP28
Six months from now, the world will descend on Dubai for COP28. Unfortunately, every COP summit sees more time spent talking about the vulnerabilities of the Global South and the aid required.
Or, off-setting solutions for the Global North. Nor do they focus enough on ensuring the resilience of those nations most affected by climate change or scaling active solutions that are succeeding, be it on a smaller scale, in countries that are leapfrogging industrialisation.
Building resilience in countries already suffering from extreme weather has many benefits: from the macroeconomic output of a country and its national food security, through to a family able to eat a meal together in a well-lit room. At Bboxx, we can see how climate change is already affecting the living conditions of our customers. Many of them are smallholder farmers1, who experience the impact of droughts or excess rainfall more painfully than anyone attending the discussions in Dubai this November. Extreme weather causes crops to fail, which can ruin a household’s income for an entire season. At Bboxx, we see the impact on our customers’ ability to pay and their product usage and we can see direct correlation between extreme weather conditions and these behavioural changes.
In defiance of these extreme conditions, many of the affected nations have chosen leapfrogging alternatives to the traditional industrialisation growth phase, preferring disruptive and renewable technologies to develop infrastructure and economic prosperity. Rwanda exemplifies this inspiring progress. Currently, more than half of Rwanda’s electricity is generated from renewable sources such as hydroelectric and solar power, and Bboxx itself provides electricity to 10% of Rwanda’s population. Rwandan communities are demonstrating a commitment to change at a grassroots level, with individual households taking responsibility for their own energy consumption.
However, this prosperity is closely tied to the weather; an increasingly unpredictable variable as commitments for lowering emissions are missed. For Bboxx, having a large proportion of the population as a customer, success starts to become correlated to the overall economic output of the country. If that economic output is correlated to the weather, which it is for countries with large agricultural sectors, then for companies like Bboxx resilience to extreme weather becomes an economic driver for the business. Resilience to weather needs to be developed both technically, financially and through policy, to give smallholder farmers a chance to have predictable growth.
This is where the attendees of COP28 have the power to make a difference and to give a voice to the empowering stories coming from Africa in particular. This could be through funding research into more resilient crop varieties, securing both income for farmers and food security for a nation. Ensuring a fair price for carbon credits produced in Africa would also have a huge impact. Carbon credits are not only an important economic tool, but also a moral one, to help ensure resilience for the poorest in the world who are most affected by climate change but have power as those who are closest to a net zero future.
At COP28, smallholder farmers need a voice – to promote their need for climate resilience, their need for clean, reliable energy, their fair share in the carbon market, and the role they play in global food security. Will you join us?