“Critical need to transform agrifood systems”
Rome/Interlaken/New Delhi: Transforming agrifood systems is essential to adapt to human-caused climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said in Rome today in the face of the latest report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The latest IPCC report highlights the critical need to transform agrifood systems as a way to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
AR6 Synthesis Report: Climate Change 2023, the last of the Sixth Assessment report cycle, done in a collaborative effort between governments and scientists from all over the world, confirms that human activities, mainly through emissions of greenhouse gases, have unequivocally caused global warming. These include unsustainable energy use, land use and land-use change, as well as consumption and production patterns.
The report, released in Interlaken (Switzerland) on March 20, 2023, underlines that 22% of global greenhouse gas emissions right now come from agriculture, forestry, and land use. The report was adopted by all member countries on March 19, 2023, at the 58thSession of the IPCC at Interlaken.
The report reinforces the scientific view that CO2 is the primary GHG and needs to be drastically reduced. The report mentions that for every 1000 GtCO2 emitted by human activity, global surface temperature rises by 0.45°C (best estimate, with a likely range from 0.27 to 0.63°C). The remaining carbon budgets from the beginning of 2020 are 500 GtCO2 for a 50% likelihood of limiting global warming to 1.5°C and 1150 GtCO2 for a 67% likelihood of limiting warming to below 2°C. Reaching net zero CO2 or GHG emissions primarily requires deep and rapid reductions in gross emissions of CO2, as well as substantial reductions of non-CO2 GHG emissions.
The synthesis report paints a clear way ahead, underscoring that the solution lies in climate-resilient development and holistic measures to adapt to climate change that also reduce or avoid greenhouse emissions. There are multiple, feasible and effective options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to human-caused climate change, and they are available now, said scientists in the IPCC report.
“Mainstreaming effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce losses and damages for nature and people, it will also provide wider benefits,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. “This Synthesis Report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still secure a liveable sustainable future for all.”
The report says climate, ecosystems and society are interconnected. Effective and equitable conservation of approximately 30-50% of the Earth’s land, freshwater and ocean will help ensure a healthy planet. Urban areas offer a global-scale opportunity for ambitious climate action that contributes to sustainable development.
Changes in the food and agrifood sector, electricity, transport, industry, buildings and land use can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, they can make it easier for people to lead low-carbon lifestyles, which will also improve health and well-being. A better understanding of the consequences of overconsumption can help people make more informed choices.
“Agriculture and food security are already threatened by climate change, in particular in Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and Land-Locked Countries, affecting the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, pastoralists, forest-dependent people, fishers, Indigenous Peoples and women,” FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo said today.
“We need to act now at scale. Building sustainable and resilient agrifood systems is fundamental to tackling the climate crisis, food insecurity and biodiversity loss,” she underscored.
Climate action through food and agriculture
The IPCC scientists highlight with high confidence that many agriculture, forestry and land use options provide adaptation and mitigation benefits that could be upscaled in the near term across most regions. For example, – they say- conservation, improved management, and restoration of forests and other ecosystems offer the largest opportunity to counteract the economic damages caused by climate-related disasters.
Examples of effective adaptation options include cultivar improvements, on-farm, water management and storage, soil moisture conservation, irrigation, agroforestry, community-based adaptation, farm and landscape level diversification in agriculture and sustainable land management.
The IPCC also notes the importance of integrated approaches to meet multiple objectives, including food security and underscores that shifting to healthy diets and reducing food waste, along with sustainable agriculture, can reduce impacts on ecosystems and free up land for reforestation and biodiversity restoration.
The synthesis also points out that while climate change policies and laws have improved, policy coverage remains limited in some sectors such as agriculture, and the barriers preventing the implementation of mitigation measures in agriculture, forestry and other land use sectors are financial, institutional and governance-related.
“The report shows how agriculture can be central to climate action. It highlights that Agriculture is already impacted by climate change, showing that its adaptation is urgent to ensure food security and nutrition leaving no one behind”, FAO Deputy Director-General Semedo highlighted.
“Agriculture including crop and livestock production, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, offers solutions that contribute to both adaptation and mitigation”, she added.
The synthesis further highlights how central water is to all sectors for their adaptation. In this context, FAO supports integrated water resources management to face water-related challenges in the context of climate change. Looking ahead, the UN 2023 Water Conference is of particular importance for Agriculture.
FAO stated today it is already working towards the report’s recommendations, including fostering climate resilience and adaptation in the agri-food sector.
The FAO Strategy on Climate Change looks beyond food production by considering crops and livestock, forests, fisheries and aquaculture and related value chains, livelihoods, biodiversity and ecosystems in a holistic manner, as well as embracing the indispensable role of women, youth and Indigenous Peoples, as essential agents of change.
It considers different contexts and realities, including rural, peri-urban and urban areas, and supporting countries, as appropriate, in designing, revising and implementing agrifood systems related parts of their country-driven commitments and plans, including nationally determined contributions (NDCs), national adaptation plans (NAPs), nationally appropriate mitigation actions, long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies, disaster risk reduction plans and other related targets and commitments.
Moreover, the Strategy considers different dimensions of risk, including the risk of non-acting, systemic risks, climate and environmental risk reduction, the specific needs and capacities of people and communities in vulnerable situations and integrating climate risk management in FAO’s areas of work.
FAO also works as a delivery partner for the Green Climate Fund (GFC), the world’s largest climate fund mandated to support developing countries to raise and achieve the ambition of their national climate plans.
Since becoming partners in 2016, FAO and the GCF have been scaling up climate investments in high-impact projects that make the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors more efficient, inclusive, sustainable and resilient to climate change. The portfolio now exceeds over 1 billion.
The Organization also works on specific initiatives including the SAGA and SCALA programmes which focus on climate solutions in some of the most vulnerable parts of the world.
Anticipating and responding to major threats to agrifood systems related to extreme weather events is another important area of FAO’s work. This includes anticipatory action through early warning systems that consist of extreme weather advisories and predictions, funds and technical resources.
“COP28 is just around the corner and the IPCC report gives the final push to take action in the ‘race to a better world’. We have the evidence and the innovative solutions, and we know what works. It’s time to break down the barriers and build synergies”, said Zitouni Ould-Dada, Deputy Director of the FAO Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment and Focal Point for the IPCC.
Meanwhile, welcoming the Synthesis Report, India’s Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Bhupender Yadav, today pointed out in New Delhi that it confirms once again that India, despite being home to more than 17% of the global population, has contributed less than 4% of the global cumulative CO2 emissions. “The Synthesis Report states that historical emissions have already depleted more than four-fifths of the global carbon budget and have thereby constrained the options available for climate resilient development for other countries and this includes India,” Yadav said.
– global bihari bureau
1 thought on ““Critical need to transform agrifood systems””
No practical solutions suggested..
Need preventive action for water pollution flood and draught and decentralised nature’s sustainability minimize transportation need maximization of carbon use for soil stabilization harnessing renewable energy in hybrid mode and such.