Emily Rushton: Climate Change Unites Farmers and Youth

United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA)

NAIROBI: Representatives from New Zealand and Pakistan have united in the need for UN programs to support changes to farm practices in response to rapidly changing climate conditions and the risk of drought.

New Zealand youth delegate to the UNEA, Emily Rushton, emphasises the need to work with farmers to attain future-proof, viable alternatives. "In developed countries, especially New Zealand, farmers have inherited escalating environmental problems. Additionally, farming intensification in the 90’s has increased debt, workload and environmental impact without significantly better returns" said Rushton.

The Farmers group is represented at the assembly by Wali Haider from 'Roots for Equity'. Haider explained severe weather, land grabs and large corporates are making farming more difficult in all areas of the world.

Rushton says, "It is important we stand up for the farmers and help implement sustainability through diversification of agriculture, moving away from intensive animal production and look to other crops. Many farmers are already doing this in New Zealand, we just need to bring the information and experts together."

Climate change emissions from the dairy industry in New Zealand account for 51% of total emissions. The industry is vulnerable to drought, flooding, unpredictable seasons and other climate-change related weather events. Recently, low milk-powder prices combined with isolation and debt have contributed to increased farmer suicide rates.

Rushton, who is part of a collaborative research group looking to help shape the future of agriculture by working alongside NZ farmers, says, "Our call to action at the UN included farmer assistance with education and support shifting to alternative cultivation.’ On why the two had teamed up, she said ‘Youth are inheriting a difficult world and farmers are one of the main keys and need help to solve it’.

Emily Rushton is a New Zealand climate educator and nurse speaking at UNEA before performing medical resilience aid in Tonga.

CONTACTS Emily Rushton:emilyjoyrushton@gmail.com


All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences, and do not reflect those of the Institute.

Posted on May 27, 2016 and filed under UNEA 2016.