Hearing from Past Crawford Scholars

April 8, 2016

It’s always good to stay in touch with our conference scholars and learn how they have benefited from attendance at our conference, the networks they’ve joined or how they’ve maintained their enthusiasm around food security with continued studies, volunteering or career development. At a time when we are just launching our 2016 conference scholarships, we have received this report from Anika Molesworth, a 2015 Crawford conference scholar. Anika was named Young Australian Farmer of the Year and, after our conference, went on to the climate talks in Paris.

In her report on the 2015 conference, Anika noted that “I felt challenged, inspired and energised from the 2015 Crawford Conference. It reinforced to me that I want to pursue a meaningful career in international agricultural research and development.” Here, Anika reports another recent opportunity that she has had through her involvement in the Climate Reality Leadership Corps and her trip to the Philippines with 700 other young passionate people from around the globe. This workshop, hosted by Al Gore, focused on building the capacity of the newest Climate Leaders, including a day at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

Climate Reality Leadership Corps

The Climate Reality Project, founded by former US Vice President Al Gore, works to catalyse global action on climate change by bringing together people from all over the world with the vision and energy to create a better, healthier planet. Local and international leaders in their fields shared their ideas and strategies at the 2016 Philippines Climate Reality Leadership Corps, which I had the honour to attend along with 700 others from all over the world. The workshop focused on building the capacity of the newest Climate Leaders, equipping them with knowledge and skills for effective climate change action and advocacy.

The Climate Reality Leadership Corps has trained thousands of Climate Leaders from 135 countries to become effective agents of change within their communities and nations. The most recent training was particularly important, held in one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, ahead of the ratification of the Paris Agreement in April this year.

A visit to the Philippines is a powerful reminder that we are dangerously pushing planetary boundaries. With more than 7,100 islands and an estimated 36,298 kilometers of coastline, more than 60% of the Filipino population reside within the coastal zone. The tropical zone is projected to be harder hit than other regions. Crops and livestock will struggle with too little or too much rain. Outbreaks of pest and disease are likely due to more favourable warm temperatures. Storm surges and cyclones will batter coastal dwellers. Dangers include food and fresh water scarcity, damage to infrastructure and devastating sea-level rise. Some of the people who will feel the impacts most acutely are those who live and work closest to the land—farmers.
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The good news is that many of the tools needed to build resilience for rural Filipinos, alleviate poverty and reduce carbon emissions, are within reach with the right willpower and investment. The technology to advance needs to be made available and affordable—with better access to finance and insurance for both men and women, improved crop and livestock varieties and breeds, better availability of quality education and healthcare, access to markets, and potential for renewable energy alternatives. Pathways such as these can help both manage and mitigate risk, giving farmers the stability, prosperity and resilience they require and deserve.

Just what climate change will mean for the world will depend on how serious we become at fighting it. With an innate understanding of the serious impacts of climate change, the Philippines is one of the world’s strongest voices leading the global movement, combatting the problem and setting an example in adapting to climate change. It is now time for all countries to work together to tackle this challenge in the most effective and efficient manner.

As an agricultural scientist and a farmer, I believe in the importance of continually seeking a better understanding of the world in which we live and to improve the ways we interact with it. The Climate Leaders came together connected by a shared apprehension about the state of the planet. They left with the ability and drive to recruit others to wield the collective energy it takes to make systemic and transformative change. The new Climate Leaders are now part of a much greater group of people united by solidarity, hope and action.

For previous articles and blogs from and about our past Crawford Fund Scholars, click on the links below.