Decoding China: The strong political commitments to address climate change
Decision Makers

Editor's Note: Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is China-centered, internationally applicable; it caters to the present and is geared towards the future. In CGTN's Decoding China series, domestic and international high-profile officials and experts from various fields share their experience and talk about Chinese governance and its global implication. In this episode, Carlos Watson, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization's Representative to China, shares his thoughts on China's response to climate change and the food security problem that climate causes.

CGTN: From your position at the United Nations and your experience working with the Chinese government, and as you know, Chinese President Xi Jinping made food security a top priority and climate change and environmental issues have very much integrated into the overall development of China, how do you evaluate China's preparedness in addressing the food security problem caused by climate change?

Carlos Watson: After being in China for several years now, I do agree with some of the remarks in your question. In my observations, the Chinese government has consistently made efforts ensuring agricultural and food security is the top national priority. Through comprehensive measures, grain output has remained above 1.3 trillion kilograms for eight consecutive years.

However, climate change does pose threat to China's long-term agricultural development, like in many other countries. Addressing the climate change impacts, China has made strong political commitments in the national development planning for the 14th Five-Year period. Meanwhile, China's "30-60" targets (to hit peak carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060), along with its updated Nationally Determined Contribution, set the goalposts for China's long-term climate ambition.

It is nice to note that the administrative measures have been complemented by a significant public investment in support to programs to encourage development and adaptation on low carbon technologies. Specifically in the agricultural sector, we are observing, to mention some specifics, better management of farms, crops, livelihoods, agriculture, and capture fisheries, to balance near-term food security and livelihoods needs with priorities for adaptation and mitigation.

Number two, more efficient ecosystems and landscape management to conserve ecosystem services that are very important for food security and agricultural development in adaptation and mitigation.

And three, strengthen services for farmers and land managers to enable better management of climate risk impacts and mitigation actions.

And I also mentioned number four, the change in the wider food systems, including demand-side measures and value chain interventions that benefit food security and sustainable agricultural development.

Let me mention something also about FAO. At FAO corporate level, the strategy on climate change will be implemented in the context of the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31. This aims to support the 2030 Agenda through the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable agri-food systems for better production, better nutrition, better environment, for a better life, for everyone.

FAO promotes, Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) to help the people who manage agricultural system respond effectively to climate change. The CSA approach pursues a triple-objective of a sustainable increase in productivity and incomes, adopting to climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions wherever is possible.

In the context of China, climate smart agricultural development has been reflected in our own FAO Country Programming Framework with China (2021-2025). Together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, local governments, academia, private sector and the farming communities, we are implementing field projects and programs.

In this regard, I'm going to give you, if you allow me, two quick examples. Through our Technical Cooperation Project, FAO, together with its partners, is developing, piloting and extending a list of low-carbon precision dairy farming approaches for carbon emission reduction and farm productivity improvement in the Karst ecosystem of Yunnan Province, for example, with the aim to contribute to the resilient and sustainable development of the dairy section in local settings.

And another example: Funded, this time in this case by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), FAO is working to mainstream on-farm conservation and sustainable use of traditional genetic diversity in four key indigenous crops, namely millets, oats, rice, and soybean in support again of climate change adaptation and mitigation.

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