Isabelle has significant experience in advocacy and communications at the international and regional levels, and a broad knowledge of development and agriculture issues acquired through previous work in international organisations, private sector and NGOs. She has also successfully led key public affairs projects in highly sensitive issues, such as agricultural biotechnology and intellectual property rights. Isabelle holds a master in gender studies from the London School of Economics and a BA Honours in Political Science and Economics from McGill University. She has lived and worked in Africa and Asia and speaks fluently English and French.

Agriculture Essential for Climate Action and Zero Hunger

The High-Level Roundtables on Climate Action for Zero Hunger took place on 14 November 2017, in Bonn, Germany, on the sidelines of the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Hunger, poverty and climate change must be tackled together. The high-level roundtables on climate action for zero hunger offered a forum to discuss how effective scaled-up action can supported and sustained to tackle hunger, poverty and climate change together.

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Scaling up Agricultural Adaptation through Insurance

Insurance can help increase farmers’ resilience and capacity to adapt. Innovations and learning in this field are growing quickly, providing concrete responses to urgent needs. 

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), in partnership with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), is hosting a conference on "Scaling up Agricultural Adaptation through Insurance” during the UNFCCC SBSTA week in Bonn. The event will showcase CCAFS’ own work on index-based insurance as well as experiences from around the globe


2015 Annual Report from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Launched

The 2015 Annual Report from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) has been launched, following a crucial year for climate research and action. Agriculture gained prominence in the Paris climate agreement, helped by the work that many groups, such as CCAFS, have done to help make the case for the sector’s crucial importance in mitigation and adaptation. CCAFS report also highlights the important role of science in informing initiatives to enhance farmers’ resilience both at the policy level as well as through partnerships at farm level– illustrated by the example of the work carried out in climate-smart villages around the world.

Learn more by reading the 2015 Annual Report here:

UNEP and UNFCCC talk Agriculture and Environmental Impact

In the past few weeks we’ve seen a lot coming up about agriculture and its impact on the environment.  Two overlapping UN meetings were addressing the subject – at the UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA 2) in Nairobi, we saw a lot of focus on biodiversity, natural resources and agriculture, with the launch of a new report called “Food Systems and Natural Resources” discussing the challenges we face and calling for a move to ‘Resource-Smart food Systems'. The report highlights some important ways forward too, such as the need to sustainably intensify production, reduce food loss and waste, and improve energy and water-efficiency in food processing.

At the same time, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was also meeting. One of the items on the agenda was climate-smart agriculture. Two workshops were held on adaptation and on technologies, but the negotiations in the informal groups did not yield a conclusive way forward, highlighting the continued sensitivity of the issue to many countries.

The proliferation of concepts seeking to capture what are ‘sustainable’ agriculture systems – from resource-smart, to climate smart - are an important indication of the complexity of the task at hand. But it also can create some confusion among external stakeholders. We are going to see a lot of these issues converge as efforts to define the Sustainable Development Goals indicators intensify in coming months. Under Goal 2, measuring progress towards sustainable agriculture is one of the main dimensions. This will undoubtedly require grappling with the same issues raised at UNEP and UNFCCC these past weeks.

A CGIAR guide to Climate-Smart Agriculture

An online guide to climate-smart agriculture (CSA) has been created by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Contributions to the site came from experts at the World Bank, CGIAR and many other institutions on these issues. The site covers the basics, such as what is CSA and why it is important, and offers detailed guidance on CSA planning, finance, and case studies from around the world. The site offers many access points for those who are interested in specific practices, systems approaches or policies. This guide should come in handy ahead of the agriculture workshops that will be held on May 21 and 23rd during the next meeting of the UN Climate Change convention in Bonn, Germany.

Explore the website, and learn about climate-smart agriculture, here.

COP21: Paris Climate Agreement unlocks opportunities for food and farming

The last two weeks in Paris at the UNFCCC COP were an exciting time, the culmination of many years of protracted negotiations that saw pragmatism and urgency ally to deliver the Paris Agreement. For those involved in agriculture, it may feel like a bittersweet ending. After many COP meetings to the tune of "No Agriculture, No Deal” it may even feel like a lost battle. But it is not. Never before have I seen so many events focused on agriculture, so many people talking about the sector and so much interest in the issue. And the Paris text may not say ‘agriculture’ but there are many entry points and opportunities for engagement laid out in the decisions from Paris. At Emerging we were happy to be able to help colleagues at CCAFS through the two weeks and their analysis of the deal should give you hope! The info note and research highlights key outcomes and next steps for the ag community.

It is time for those who have been part of the long fight to see agriculture recognised and included to look at current tactics and re-evaluate where engagement needs to happen. The next 4 years should be busy as ever!

My Favorite Pulse Dish: Sweet Potatoes, Butternut and Beans


This recipe is one of my favourites because it’s just so easy and quick to make and those bright colours are lovely for a winter meal. It is derived from a similar recipe for a Brazilian stew that used to be served at the World Food Café in London’s Covent Garden. Sadly the Café is gone, but the cookbook remains and over time I made that recipe my own.

This is a very simple dish to make, it can be made as a vegetarian recipe - or not - and can be customised to fit your taste! It’s ready in 30 min or so and can easily be reheated too…

Sweet Potatoes, Butternut and Beans 

For 2-3 as a main course


  • Half a butternut, peeled and cubed

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

  • 2 or 3 cans of beans – choose the ones you like best, this one is made with butter beans and pinto beans but anything goes!

  • 2 red peppers, cut into pieces

  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

  • Vegetable or chicken stock

  • Feta or a similar tangy cheese

  • Olive oil

  • Cumin – 1 tablespoon

  • Smoked paprika – 1 tablespoon

  • Oregano (fresh or dry) - a handful fresh or 2 small teaspoons

  • Optional:

    • Chorizo or another type of spicy sausage

    • Pancetta, diced

    • Fresh or flaked dry chilli peppers (1 chilli chopped or less, to taste)

    • Avocado, sliced


  • Sauté the garlic in olive oil

  • When it starts to become a little transparent, add the cubed sweet potato and butternut

  • If using cooking chorizo, pancetta, or chilli, add now

  • Add the spices

  • Sauté for another 5-10 min

  • Add the vegetable or chicken stock until the vegetables are just covered.

  • Put the lid on let it simmer 15 min

  • Add the drained and rinsed beans

  • Add the cubed peppers

  • Let it simmer until the sweet potato and butternut are cooked through

  • Add salt and pepper to taste

  • Serve with feta crumbled on top and optionally, a slices of avocado

You can serve with a side of rice also.

Financing for Development Keeps Agriculture and Infrastructure front and centre.

The world has been meeting in Addis Ababa to discuss Financing for Development and I have been on-site all week.  The negotiations concluded on Thursday 16 July and form the basis to help support the Sustainable Development Goals (Post 2015 agenda) which will be finalised in September.   As a past co-chairperson of Farming First it was particularly pleasing to see all the elements of the Farming First agenda included, such as:  access to land resources for women, furthering extension services, investing in infrastructure, fostering productivity, reducing food losses, fairer markets, and more research.  We could not be more proud of the gains made for agriculture generally and smallholders particularly.

By the time negotiators arrived in Addis, most of the text had been discussed but three ‘sticking’ points remained: taxation, debt, and ‘common but differentiated” responsibilities. Negotiations were conducted largely behind closed doors by small groups of negotiators. Three formal sessions of the main committee were convened but these served to discuss procedural matters rather than negotiate. By Wednesday evening, a final text was agreed, well in time for the closing of the conference.

Some highlights:

  • Food security and agriculture are mentioned a few times in the text, in particular in relation to the poverty reduction potential of growth in ag sector and the need for further investments (para 13 and 121), but also in relations to concerns about volatility in commodity prices and the impact on food security (para 108). There is also a specific mention of the need to “correct and prevent trade restrictions and distortions in agricultural markets, including through the elimination of ag export subsidies” (para 83)

    13. Scaling up efforts to end hunger and malnutrition. It is unacceptable that close to 800 million people are chronically undernourished and do not have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. With the majority of the poor living in rural areas, we emphasize the need to revitalize the agricultural sector, promote rural development, and ensure food security, notably in developing countries, in a sustainable manner, which will lead to rich payoffs across the sustainable development goals. We will support sustainable agriculture, including forestry, fisheries and pastoralism. We will also take action to fight malnutrition and hunger among the urban poor. Recognizing the enormous investment needs in these areas, we encourage increased public and private investments. In this regard, we recognize the Committee on World Food Security’s voluntary Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems and the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests. We recognize the efforts of the International Fund for Agricultural Development in mobilizing investment to enable rural people living in poverty to improve their food security and nutrition, raise their incomes, and strengthen their resilience. We value the work of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) the World Food Programme, and the World Bank and other multilateral development banks. We also recognize the complementary role of social safety nets in ensuring food security and nutrition. In this regard, we welcome the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the Framework for Action, which can provide policy options and strategies aimed at ensuring food security and nutrition for all. We also commit to increasing public investment, which plays a strategic role in financing research, infrastructure and pro-poor initiatives. We will strengthen our efforts to enhance food security and nutrition and focus our efforts on smallholders and women farmers, as well as on agricultural cooperatives and farmers’ networks. We call on relevant agencies to further coordinate and collaborate in this regard, in accordance with their respective mandates. These efforts must be supported by improving access to markets, enabling domestic and international environments, and strengthened collaboration across the many initiatives in this area, including regional initiatives, such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme. We will also work to significantly reduce post-harvest food loss and waste.
    121. We will support research and development of vaccines and medicines, as well as preventive measures and treatments for the communicable and non-communicable diseases, in particular those that disproportionately impact developing countries. We will support relevant initiatives, such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which incentivizes innovation while expanding access in developing countries. To reach food security, we commit to further investment, including through enhanced international cooperation, in earth observation, rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, and technology development by enhancing agricultural productive capacity in developing countries, in particular in least developed countries, for example by developing plant and livestock gene banks. We will increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology adopted by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries.

  • In para 14, the document recommends the establishment of a global infrastructure forum, to be managed by the development banks to help coordinate and increase investments in infrastructure, a element of great importance to the agriculture sector.

  • There are a few mentions of encouraging corporate social responsibility and reporting on social and environmental impacts by companies (para 17, 36, 37). These mentions are not negative and are in the context of ‘encouraging’ and ‘supporting’ rather than requiring or enforcing.  In fact the document in general is very supportive of private sector investment and partnerships.

  • Finally there is an agreement to hold an annual forum on financing for development under the Economic and Social Council, to last up to 5 days, and possibly a follow up conference in 2019.

View the outcome document here.

Climate Change and Food Systems: Global assessments and implications for food security and trade

At a time when the world is getting ready to sign up to the new sustainable development goals (SDGs), a study by UN agency Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that without action on climate change, commitments on food security and poverty eradication will be impossible to achieve. The study, "Climate Change and Food Systems (PDF, 31MB)”, highlights some of the key challenges posed by climate change - for example changes in temperature will affect crop nutrition by lowering concentrations of zinc, iron and protein and raising starch and sugar content in some plants such as wheat, rice and soybeans. Findings from the study show how a changing climate exacerbates not only productivity and sustainability challenges, but also nutrition challenges, including obesity and nutrition deficits in poor communities.

Highlighting the need for evidence-based “climate-smart policies”, the study aims to provide policy-makers a comprehensive overview of food systems linking climate change to food, health and nutrition, water scarcity, and global food trade. The evidence gathered in the book suggests that any adaptation and mitigation strategies will need to vary from region to region and will likely need to adapt to new challenges, in particular more frequent natural disasters.

The book sends one clear message for decision-makers: “There is no single trajectory of climate change impacts for the future. Instead, there will be a range of possible outcomes – some more likely than others – and all of them will depend on the part of the world being considered. Nevertheless, we can be confident about one thing: the climate change risks to agricultural output, to food systems and to food security will increase over time and therefore must not be ignored by those making medium- and long-term planning decisions about food security.”

Preparing for COP21: Guide to Negotiations on Agriculture and Climate Change

Climate change negotiations are hitting a big deadline this year, as expectations are high for a new agreement to be signed in Paris in December at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21). The new deal is meant to be ambitious and set the world on a path to achieve a maximum 2°C rise in temperature. Achieving this target is complex, and there are many factors that may hamper its success. One fundamental obstacle is the fact that agriculture remains inadequately included in the negotiations.

Emerging ag supported Farming First, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) to update their “Guide to Negotiations on Agriculture and Climate Change” ahead of the workshops on agriculture that will be held in June during the meeting of SBSTA in Bonn.

The Guide is a great resource for outreach and advocacy on agriculture and climate change. It sets out clear evidence for agriculture’s importance to national economies, food security, adaptation and mitigation. It also features a host of material to help member states and other actors incorporate agriculture into their country’s action plans.

There have been years of back and forth about whether and howagriculture should be tackled under the UN climate change negotiations. It is a highly sensitive sector because of its impact on food and nutrition security, as well as livelihoods. It is also diverse and multifaceted with linkages to many sectors, such as energy, natural resources, and ecosystems. However, climate change cannot be discussed without incorporating agriculture. Agriculture is a significant contributor to global emissions, but it also has an important role to play to meet global adaptation and mitigation objectives. Achieving a 2°C goal without including agriculture is unrealistic.

Advocates for agriculture’s inclusion in the UN climate change negotiations need to seize the opportunities of 2015. This year can be a turning point so a concerted global action is needed ensure a sustainable future.

The guide provides many tools for agricultural practitioners involved in the negotiations, including:

  • Key messages tailored both to the UNFCCC process in general and the Bonn Climate Change Conference more specifically

  • An updated overview of agriculture & the UNFCCC, detailing the ways in which agriculture is being brought into discussions under the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Action and the Conferences of the Parties (COP)

  • Frequently Asked Questions which can help guide answers to difficult questions posed at the negotiating table

  • Factsheets with key statistics to communicate the challenges and opportunities related to agriculture and climate change

  • Websites, infographics, briefs & papers with further information on all topics discussed in the toolkit, bringing the issues to life

Farmers are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, and they need action from policy makers, NGOs, politicians and businesses if they are to adapt and to mitigate. So as the guide states: “Now is the time to act”:

For more information on the guide contact Vanessa Meadu at CCAFS This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and of course for help on your climate change work, contact us!