In Sri Lanka, UNDP works with government, non-government and private sector organizations to support technological innovation, mobilize financing and deliver home-grown solutions to the climate problem. A good example would be the joint UNDP-FAO project to popularize processed fuelwood as an alternative fuel for industry. The project support fuelwood cultivation, certification, value addition, efficient storage and transportation and finally fuel-efficient kilns, boilers etc for industry. Greenhouse gas saving was achieved by growing fuelwood in mixed crop plantations and replacing fossil fuels.
In the agriculture sector, UNDP supports farmers with climate forecasts and seasonal advisories to plan their cultivation. The Meteorological Department produces seasonal rainfall forecasts which are converted to agricultural advisories and then transmitted through the extension services to farmers as they plan the water allocation and crop selection for each season. This trial has run for two years and is continuously being upgraded to improve accuracy and targeting to reach as many farmers as possible.
Food production systems and forestry together account for one third of the greenhouse gases that are choking the earth’s cooling system. Producing meat, globally, is charged with the crime of being the worst offender. Much of the Amazon’s present destruction is attributed to expanding cattle ranching or growing soy or corn to feed livestock.
The burning of the Amazon thickens the miasma surrounding the global climate debate and the deeply political positioning of certain countries. Politicians and big businesses back the controversial land grabbing for farm and ranch expansion, claiming their right to use the forest for short-term nationalistic gain.
But it is through this smog, that we see the seeds of hope as well.
The fires urged seven South American countries to sign a pact to strengthen protection for the Amazon and set up sophisticated systems to police forest crimes, including illegal land grabbing. It urged indigenous tribes to fight back for their forest homes and urged private sector to censure their peers who contribute to or gain out of the deforestation in the Amazon. There are encouraging signs of new efforts to finance sustainable agribusiness. The Responsible Commodities Facility is the world’s first green bonds scheme to provide low-interest credit lines for sustainable food production. In Sri Lanka, UNDP and IFC (International Finance Corporation) supported the Central Bank to develop a Green Banking Initiative, encouraging banks to lend to responsible and sustainable businesses.
Financing stronger climate change ambitions, especially from developing nations, will be the top agenda when world leaders meet in New York for the UN General Assembly and Climate Summit.
As we hurtle towards an uncertain future, it is up to each of us- to learn and understand about the challenges of climate change and commitments our government (s) have made. It is up to us to urge our leaders to take the right actions, to become the consumers demanding more accountability from the corporate supply chain and to nudge the warming trajectory to the green as we define a new, cleaner pathway to grow and prosper as countries and as people. Afterall, there is no planet B!