The climate crisis is posing severe challenges to the world's agrifood systems, with an escalating threat to food security and biodiversity, says a report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The document, which was presented at the UN Climate Conference COP28 in Dubai, brings to light the detrimental effects of climate change on water resources, soil quality, and crop yields. It emphasizes the urgent need to address these vulnerabilities and increase resilience in global food systems.
Agrifood Systems at Risk
The FAO report reveals that climate change-induced loss and damage significantly impact agrifood systems and the communities dependent on them. The crisis has led to an increase in extreme weather events, causing a decline in crop production and escalating food insecurity. The report further highlights the need for enhanced methodologies and tools for assessing the negative impacts of climate change, particularly slow-onset events and non-economic dimensions of loss and damage. Agricultural losses accounted for an average of 23% of the total impact of disasters across all sectors, pointing towards the urgency of action.
Financial Support and Climate Finance
Addressing the challenges posed by climate change requires substantial financial support. Despite an increase in global climate finance flows, the report notes that the current levels of tracked climate finance for agrifood systems are inadequate, constituting less than 20% of climate-related development finance in 2021. There is a pressing need to close the investment gap for climate finance to reach those who need it most - predominantly smallholder farmers.
FAO's Role and Initiatives
The FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, stressed the importance of the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action, endorsed by 134 countries. The FAO is also working to integrate agrifood system solutions into countries' climate commitments, biodiversity plans, and food system transformation pathways. Initiatives like community-driven crop diversity projects in Ecuador, mangrove restoration in Senegal, and agroforestry programs in Indonesia serve as examples of FAO's commitment to climate solutions.
The report underlines the crucial need for international collaboration to mitigate the impact of loss and damage in agrifood systems through enhanced climate risk assessment, data collection, implementation of adaptation measures, and a recovery approach based on 'building back better'.
In the context of COP28 and the World Climate Action Summit, the FAO report and discussions have emphasized the pressing need to address the vulnerabilities in agrifood systems due to climate change. The report highlights the pivotal role of agriculture and food systems in global efforts to build resilient and sustainable food systems, underscoring the need for targeted actions and increased financial support.