On 1-2 May 2017, a number of UNFCCC Agriculture Negotiators and resource persons from technical organizations came together at Wolfson College, Oxford for an informal exchange of views around the consideration of issues relating to agriculture by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) of the UNFCCC. The informal arrangement of the meeting provided a space allowing to enhance the understanding of each other’s views through open discussions of issues of interest to the participants.
The exchange of views was facilitated by means of guiding questions including: What could be major concerns affecting the progress in the SBSTA consideration of issues relating to agriculture? In view of moderate progress achieved during the five-year consideration of issues relating to agriculture as a sectoral approach under the SBSTA, should SBSTA continue its consideration of this matter? What are advantages and disadvantages of the continuation of consideration of issues relating to agriculture as sectoral approach under the SBSTA? What would be specific features of agriculture that make it different from other sectors identified in climate negotiations? What do we mean when we talk about mitigation in agriculture? What is the difference (if any) between mitigation in agriculture and mitigation in other sectors? What are the potential areas for synergies among various processes under the Convention that might facilitate the consideration of issues relating to agriculture as sectoral approach under the SBSTA?
All participants engaged in an open dialogue, touching on the broad range of issues related to the above questions, resulting in an enhanced understanding of participants’ respective viewpoints.
On Saturday 13 May, the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB), Volume 12 Number 696, reported from the 46 session of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) on the negotiations related to issues on agriculture:
"All parties welcomed the positive progress made in informal informals on agriculture, indicating their optimism about reaching agreement on substantive conclusions at this session and on a COP 23 decision. Informal informals will continue. … Happy delegates were seen coming out of the negotiations on agriculture …, commenting on the positive spirit and constructive discussions."
SBSTA Chair Mr Carlos Fuller, after the Session, wrote:
'Dear Benito, as you may be aware, SBSTA finally delivered a Conclusion on Agriculture at its 46th Session. While it was generally factual and procedural, the Informal Note appended to it contained very useful information that will inform the next sessions. We had never been able to achieve that before. This issue requires a lot of time and space and different formats to enable the Parties to explore the various aspects of agriculture. In this regard I believe that the Seminar on Agriculture and Climate Change that you organized and facilitated in Oxford earlier in the month brought the Parties closer together and contributed to the results. I am convinced that more of these types of events will further a common understanding that will generate tangible results in the near future. Keep up the good work. Sincerely yours, Carlos'