Concrete actions for effective transformation

Christino Áureo da Silva, State Government of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Paris is the centre of discussions in 2015 about global efforts to tackle climate change. The Cities and Regions Pavilion of the United Nations Conference of Parties – COP 21 – brings together subnational governments committed to dealing with the climate change. On the top of the agenda is the importance of local engagement to increase the effectiveness of the global climate treaties signed and revised each year by Heads of State. This year the State of Rio de Janeiro was selected to present its experience, which focused on farmers’ leadership in transitioning to a rural development model based on low carbon agriculture integrated with sustainable management of natural resources in micro-watersheds.

For a decade, sustainable development has been a core principle of the State Secretariat of Agriculture of Rio de Janeiro. Through the Rio Rural Programme, smallholders of the state have been stimulated to adopt more efficient production techniques, reconciling income generation and environmental preservation and improving living conditions in the countryside.

In order to achieve this, Rio Rural carries out a strategy aligned with COP21’s objectives including: promoting technological transfer and capacity building, adaptation of production systems for mitigation of environmental impacts, financing mechanisms for sustainable projects, and transparency and participation processes.

The programme’s activities are also consistent with the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including those on water and sanitation, agriculture and soil protection, gender equality, eradication of poverty, and infrastructure enhancement.

As well as being a significant source of greenhouse gases emissions, agriculture is also a sector that is extremely vulnerable to effects of climate change, like extended droughts, floods and disruption of production cycles. Rio Rural breaks the logic of degradation in order to foster environmental and economic sustainability, and consequently lead to better practices being adopted by farmers.

By 2018 USD 233 million will be invested in sustainable development activities, with financial support from the World Bank. It is expected that 48,000 farmers will benefit from such intervention programmes, improving land management over 2 million hectares, conserving 45 thousand kilometres of watercourses and putting in place six thousand kilometers of rural road upgrades.

Furthermore, positive impacts of sustainable agriculture can also be seen from a qualitative perspective: along with water preservation and the systemic neutralisation of greenhouse gases, changing behaviours and priorities of rural actors is a significant achievement. In this regard, the United Nations have already acknowledged the concrete results of Rio Rural as a successful experience of water resources management and sustainable development, as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported in March, 2015.

What would be the basic premise for achieving the climate goals, if not individual and group behavioural transformation? It is not a coincidence that Rio Rural’s approach, focused on awareness raising and participation, was chosen to feature in the climate conference.

In addition to strong political commitment at the global level, the support of regional leaders in building and implementing technical solutions for a sustainable model of development is also critical to foster transformation of common practices to face climate challenges. In Paris, the State of Rio de Janeiro reinforces its engagement to cooperate with other governments, enhancing partnerships with multilateral development agencies in order to integrate resources and strengthen a vision of global sustainability.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christino Áureo da Silva is the Secretary of Agriculture and Livestock of the State Government of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil