A farmer driven approach to furthering a just transition: bringing farmers into the climate policy-making process.

Published: 7 Sep 2023
Type: Case study

WFO and the just transition​ 

The World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) is ‘an organization created by the farmers for the farmers’

It is a member-based association that brings together national farmers’ organizations and agricultural cooperatives from across the world. It is the biggest independent voice for farmers globally.​ 

WFO’s mission is to represent the voices of farmers in relevant global dialogue: on agriculture, nutrition, and sustainability; and advocate on their behalf for the adoption of policies and programs that can improve the economic environment and livelihoods of producers and rural communities.​ 

Farmers are one of the most vulnerable economic groups in the world to the effects of climate change. Increasingly extreme weather events cause uncertainty and unpredictability for farmers and their livelihoods. For a just transition in the agricultural sector, it is imperative to pursue actions that enhance farmer’s resilience to climate change.​ 

At the same time, food and land use systems are a crucial part of the solution to the climate crisis: their transition to zero carbon could contribute up to one third of the emissions reductions needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Farmers are uniquely placed to provide agricultural solutions to both mitigate and adapt to climate change at the same time.​ 

This context is the basis for the WFO’s just transition approach: A Farmer Driven Climate Change Agenda. Any policy-making process that has an impact on the farming sector should involve the farmers. They are the group best placed and capable of providing solutions to increase the adaptation of agricultural production to the direct effects of climate change. By protecting the environment and biodiversity, farmers also protect themselves. 

“Don’t invite us to dinner; call us to the kitchen! Don’t take decisions about agriculture without the farmers being there” – WFO President Theo de Jager, at COP26. 

The Climakers: WFO’s initiative putting farmers at the center of tackling climate change. 

​The Climakers is a multi-stakeholder alliance that employs a bottom-up approach to tackle the effects of climate change. It promotes solutions that are farmer-driven, science-based and result-oriented.​ 

The ambition of the initiative is to encourage governments to base their national plans for the implementation of the Paris Agreement on the best practice agricultural methods that farmers are already implementing to mitigate and adapt to climate change, proving that farmers own an essential part of the solution.​ 

The Climakers gather information on practices and solutions used by farmers through questionnaires and regional workshops. The workshops offer a valuable platform for farmers to share their experiences of dealing with the devastating effects of climate change. ​ 

The Climakers then use criteria from Climate-smart agriculture (an approach that helps guide actions to transform agri-food systems towards green and climate resilient practices) to analyze the findings, and help prepare guidelines for policymakers based on the best practices that the farmers in the Climakers members’ networks have shared as solutions proposed to mitigate and adapt to climate change.   

Reflecting the needs and perspectives of farmers and those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change in climate policies, is vital to achieving a just transition for the sector. 



Collaboration and transparency & Universal net zero energy


WFO’s Climakers initiative is a leading practice example of how to bring everyone on the journeyand support the just transition of other organizations, and indeed the just transition of the entire agricultural sector. It exemplifies both the core practices and more ambitious company actions proposed under the collaboration and transparency pillar of the JT Framework as well as the actions of pursuing ambitious carbon neutrality targets and advocating for policies and investment that advance a just transition from the Universal net zero energy pillar. 

Stories from the Field: Sharing knowledge and best practices with industry peers and beyond  

Climakers’ Stories from the Field is a publication (currently in its third edition) showcasing a collection of science assessed, best farming practices when it comes to mitigating and adapting to climate change.  

The publication shows the wisdom, experience and expertise of farmers across the globe on what works for them on their farm. Two straightforward questions guide the collection of experiences:  

  1. What can farmers do to mitigate and adapt to climate change?  
  2. What do they need to be successful in that?  

Farmers learn more from other farmers than from anyone else. The idea of this publication is to ensure that successful experiences from one region are made available to the widest audience so that they can inspire other farmers and other countries that may replicate the best practices or scale them up, adapting them to local needs.   

Farmers own the solutions because they have persevered in each corner of the world for centuries, adapting to an ever-changing environment.  

Regional workshops are organized with the aim to create awareness of the concept of the Farmers Driven Climate Change Agenda, gather best practices from the farmers and their Farmers’ Organizations and establish a consultation with relevant stakeholders on the implementation of the Agenda.  

Workshops have been held in different regions: Europe, Central/North America, Latin America, Caribbean, Asia/Oceania, Northern and Western Africa, Southern and Eastern Africa. These events target not only farmers, but also bring together a range of relevant stakeholders, including government representatives, the private sector, multilateral institutions, and research organizations. 

Climakers project spotlight:  

Strengthening farmers’ resilience through capacity building in circular agriculture techniques  

Weather patterns in Cambodia have changed over the past three decades resulting in the degradation of agro-ecological systems and creating problems for agricultural production.  

Cambodian farmers (especially small-scale farmers) have been left without the right knowledge of climate-appropriate technical farming techniques and a lack of capital to expand operations, limiting their ability to create stable links from farms to markets.  

In response to these problems, the Cambodian Farmer Federation Association of Agricultural Producers (CFAP), has provided its members with training and capacity building courses in a range of agroecological practices, and provided advisory support to farmers on techniques to address funding problems.  

Results: The introduction of new skills has increased yields about three times or more compared to old practices; while the adoption of compost and organic fertilizers has improved ecosystem services, benefiting adaptation to climate change, and reduced the carbon footprint associated with synthetic inputs. 

Making the just transition a reality, by bringing farmers into the policy arena  

At COP26, the WFO co-hosted an event presenting a toolkit for farmer-driven implementation of nationally determined commitments (NDCs). This was an important action-oriented step towards a just transition for farmers.   

At COP27, the central importance of agriculture to climate was translated further into political action. For true success, there must be a shift from high-level discussion to time-bound, practical goals and concrete implementation of the policies that will lead to a just transition. Reflecting the needs and perspectives of farmers as those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change in this process is vital.  

In partnership with the Just Rural Transition, WFO supported farmers to attend COP27, and share their unique insights and knowledge of the challenges faced in the transition to net zero, and actions needed to mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

“By achieving a just transition to sustainable and equitable farming we can build resilience, adaptation and food security, while protecting nature and mitigating future climate change. To do this, we must listen to and learn from the farmers who form the backbone of our planet’s food systems. Their unique experience and expertise are key to tackling the challenge – but also enormous opportunity – that lies ahead.” – Just Rural Transition, on their joint event at COP27 with WFO 

At COP28, for the first time, there will be a food day, to represent the importance of the agricultural sector in achieving global as well as national climate goals. High on the agenda will be regenerative agriculture, practice which aims to distribute value equitably in a farming system that exists within planetary boundaries. 

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