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Interview with climate change expert, Belynda Petrie  

It is no secret that food security depends on water security and that climate change is impacting on both. The question is whether these issues will be addressed at COP17 in Durban. Is there still time to have them feature on the agenda?

Belynda Petrie, chief executive of the One World consultancy, provides insight into how these issues can still be positioned on the global political agenda – as well as her hopes for outcomes in Durban.

It is really too late to be putting food and water issues on the agenda, as COP17 negotiations started a year ago. The issues can however be taken forward in upcoming negotiations beyond COP17.

“Despite it being too late to position water and food security issues in the COP17 negotiations, let’s not forget it provides a very good platform for engaging negotiators, policy makers and ministers in view of upcoming negotiations. Approximately 35,000 of them will be attending the event in Durban.”

This is an ideal opportunity for creating awareness and engaging stakeholders around water and food issues. “CPWF should really integrate its agenda with existing issues in the negotiations rather than trying to create a separate agenda,” Petrie says.

If Africa can negotiate that the climate change fund includes an allocation of 50% towards adaptation, then food and water solutions can be funded going forward, as these issues are linked to adaptation.

This will require a change in approach with negotiations by CPWF-based on dialogue that uses science-based evidence as a strong selling point. “It has to kept in mind that the Adaptation Fund is limited and there are over a hundred countries that could apply. It´s a competitive process,” says Petrie.

“At a global level we need evidence about why we need to adapt, the economic costs of adaptation and where the focus on adaptation should be. At a regional and river basin level we need evidence for planning, and for strategy and policy making. On a project level we need evidence for building the project proposals for funding of the Adaptation Fund.

Petrie expects that the Adaptation Fund will be reviewed and that there will probably be a high level agreement on the Green Climate Fund at COP 17.

She warns that the Adaptation Fund is however at risk. “If an ambitious agreement on limiting greenhouse gases emissions (GHG) is not reached at COP 17, fewer funds can be raised.”

Not to be forgotten – and perhaps a more important platform is Rio+20. “Rio is a really important platform because is all about sustainability.”

By Alejandra Visscher

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