Agriculture is central to any debate on climate change given the enormous responsibility placed on the sector to produce 60% more food by 2050, despite changing climatic uncertainties. Yields worldwide, for example, are expected to decrease by more than 10% due to climate change – with Africa and South Asia most negatively impacted – while the world’s population continues to grow.
The case for increased investment in climate-smart agriculture has been articulated at various international climate forums, such as the Conference of the Parties (COP), as a way to promote agricultural transformation and chart a path to scale-up climate actions in agriculture. Despite this, less than 5% of global climate finance is targeted towards the agricultural sector, contradicting the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) as agreed at the ‘Paris Accord’ during COP 21 in December 2015, and which embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. International agreement and goal setting have thus not been sufficient in creating new opportunities for climate finance in agriculture, and more must be done to ensure implementation of appropriate and inclusive actions that arise from such discussions.
The impacts of investment
Access to the right agricultural tools and knowledge through investment enables farmers to adapt to the impacts of climate change and strengthen their resilience, food security and livelihoods. Investment in agricultural action also empowers farmers to mitigate against the impacts of climate change. Training in agroforestry practices, for instance, enables farmers to contribute to emission reduction through carbon sequestration and nitrogen fixation as trees grow, whilst at the same time, provides smallholders with diverse livelihood options.
A €4 million Global Environment Facility project in the Cherangani Hills Forest of Kenya's Rift Valley, which also received a €437,000 additional investment from the United Nations Development Programme, trained 2,000 households in forest conservation and agroforestry techniques. The impact of the practices was to increase the diversity of the local production system, and has enabled farmers to branch out into avocado, woodlot seedlings and coffee cultivation. Community management of the land also means the forest and tree species are safeguarded.
According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the case for climate investment is clear: for every US$1 (€0.88) invested in climate action, carbon emissions are reduced by 68 kgC. Further, for every US$1 invested in anticipatory measures for climate change planning initiatives, an estimated US$7 (€6.17) is saved in future relief costs. Financial support for climate action in agriculture is therefore key to meeting global adaptation and mitigation goals, and in reducing climate impacts experienced by smallholders.
Collaboration for transformative action
During COP 23 global climate discussions held in Bonn, in November 2017, decision 4/CP.23 was adopted to implement the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA), which also decided the next steps for agriculture within the UNFCCC framework. The KJWA requests that the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation work together to jointly address issues related to agricultural financing. This will be achieved through workshops and expert meetings with COP international bodies to determine the details of the climate action required, i.e. improved water and livestock management systems for sustainable agriculture, and how such actions will be applied and assessed.
To enable African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to benefit from the KJWA by identifying emerging opportunities for climate finance, since early 2018, CTA has been working in 11 countries across these regions to review the progress of their NDC implementation. By engaging with national government officials and other relevant stakeholders, CTA has been reviewing the progress of ongoing and planned initiatives for NDC implementation in these countries, with specific reference to the agricultural sector. In particular, CTA is examining national investment plans for examples of blended climate finance options for agriculture. Opportunities for such blends may emanate from diverse sources e.g. the Green Climate Fund, which functions under the guidance of COP to support development projects. They are also reviewing country NDCs – and any related policy documents – to highlight potential gaps in their implementation, to assess agricultural stakeholder engagement, and to build the capacities of the various countries to develop projects for climate-smart actions in agriculture.