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The annual global climate talks are underway this week in Warsaw, Poland. The agenda for the 19th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 19) to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as the climate talks are formally called, includes discussions on “issues relating to agriculture” with climate change adaptation identified, appropriately, as a primary focus. As anyone who is engaged in farming or in other natural resource related fields or who lives in a rural landscape knows, there are big changes already occurring that are impacting their livelihoods, communities and local economies.  

Despite this focus, it is unlikely that there will be many rural voices at the negotiating table in Warsaw.  That is unfortunate, because in order to succeed, we believe it is essential to involve rural stakeholders in identifying possible policy and on-the-ground solutions. Sadly, the discussions at COP 19 are more likely to revolve around the promotion of carbon markets rather than the real strategies and investments needed to help rural communities, farmers and others to be more resilient and to help slow the pace of climate change.

To focus and strengthen the U.S. rural perspective on both the problems and solutions associated with climate change, IATP and its partners are excited to announce the launch of the Rural Climate Network (RCN). Formed out of the 2011 National Rural Assembly, the Rural Climate Network was born in response to this identified lack of rural engagement in climate policy development, but also out of a recognition for a greater need of collaboration among rural organizations and leaders regarding relevant climate change adaptation and mitigation resources, information and strategies. 

Currently, the RCN website features information on the work of 21 rural organizations from across the country working to address climate change. Relevant resources range from videos of farmers and other rural residents talking about actions they are taking to combat climate change to climate adaptation plans to Neil Young discussing farming and climate change. Our hope is to grow this collection of practical, rural strategies and resources to adapt to and mitigate the current and anticipated effects of climate change, but to do that, we need your help! Read the first issue of the Rural Climate Network newsletter and sign up to receive future issues, email RCN@iatp.org to share stories, resources or organizations that would be a good fit for membership, and keep an eye on the expanding website for new information.