WACC Global is proud to announce its new initiative with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to help build the capacity of communities at the grassroots level – particularly family farmers’ associations – in using local and traditional knowledge for sustainable resource management and climate change mitigation.
WACC and FAO will jointly support three (3) year-long projects starting in the first quarter of 2020: one in Kenya in partnership with the Farm Forestry Small Holder Producers Association of Kenya (FF-SPAK), one in Ecuador in partnership with Consorcio de Organizaciones de Productores de Napo, and one in the Philippines, in partnership with a yet to be determined organization.
Knowledge gained will be disseminated through WACC’s regional associations and through FAO’s regional knowledge sharing platforms: Onda Rural (Latin America), ComDev (Asia), and Yenkasa (Africa).
The program comes at a critical juncture. Global warming poses “a very real risk of environmental catastrophe” unless societies around the world radically alter their ways of life, according to the 2018 report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report warns of more frequent droughts, sea level rises and loss of biodiversity resulting from climate change.
“As climate change exacerbates already existing inequalities within and among communities, it has a disproportionate effect on marginalized and isolated communities,” particularly those who rely on nature for their livelihood and survival, said Lorenzo Vargas, WACC manager for Communication for Social Change. Shifts in climate and agricultural zones, changes in production patterns due to higher temperatures, as well as extreme and unpredictable precipitation patterns threaten crops and food security, he noted.
“Climate change threatens our ability to ensure global food security, eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development,” according to the FAO.
WACC and the FAO both believe that traditional ecological knowledge should be part of the collective response to the climate emergency, and that family farmers “should be at the center of that response,” said Vargas.
“Traditional knowledge represents an alternative way of thinking, which has evolved over time to help traditional, often Indigenous, communities to protect their lives and livelihood,” he explained.
WACC believes that communication has a critical role to play in responding to the climate emergency. “Our collective response as a human family to the threats posed by climate change partly depends on the extent to which climate-related issues receive public attention,” said Vargas.
The program will respond to this need by supporting the establishment of networks of grassroots citizen journalists interested in promoting “community-centred, ecologically-balanced and culturally-sensitive approaches to development both in their local communities and beyond,” said Vargas.
The program’s approach responds to two key aspects of the UN’s Sustainable Goal 13 – strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters, and improving education and awareness-raising on climate change mitigation, adaptation and impact reduction.
It is also in line with the objectives of the UN Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF), which focuses on strengthening the communication capacities of farmers’ organizations. In December, WACC was invited to be part of an FAO workshop on inclusive rural communication services for family farming as part of the UNDFF. “I was inspired by the passion and commitment of family farming networks,” said WACC Deputy General Secretary Sara Speicher, who noted that family farming produces around 80% of the world’s food.