From Pixel to Reality: Launching the ‘Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Map'

Written by Nerina Muzurovic

IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze talks to the press about the new climate change
vulnerability assessment map.
©IFAD/N. Muzurovic

In an IFAD-sponsored side event, titled “From Pixel to Reality,” held at the COP22 in Marrakesh on 16 November 2016, IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze launched the ‘climate change vulnerability assessment map of IFAD’s projects in Morocco.’ The event was co-organized by IFAD and the Moroccan Agency for Agricultural Development (ADA).

The climate change vulnerability map, funded by an IFAD grant to ADA, is a new and innovative decision-making tool that allows for tracking, measuring and understanding climate and weather, and the implications of climate change for farming and rural livelihoods. “The vast majority of the world’s poorest people live in the rural areas of developing countries and depend on agriculture for their lives and livelihoods,” said IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze, in his opening remarks. “And it is these very same women and men who are bearing the brunt of the impact of extreme weather and climate change.”

A tool like this can help. “Our experience has shown that it’s not enough to provide funds,” explained IFAD President. “We have to have data.” This, he stressed, is particularly true for work in rural areas, which are most vulnerable to changing weather conditions.

Gathering hard data (‘pixels’) makes it possible to target real-world help in the most meaningful way.

For policy makers, the new assessment tool helps to prioritize, in order to develop more effective regional and local adaptation plans. For farmers on the ground, the tool makes it possible to identify the greatest hazards, and take appropriate steps. “This is, of course, valuable here in Morocco,” said IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze, “Where rising temperatures and projected declines in rainfall are expected to have a severe impact on the ability to grow crops.”

Tools like this also help reshape the way we approach climate change impacts. “Vulnerability mapping facilitates long-term thinking,” said H. E. Ibrahim El-Dukheri, Federal Minister of Agriculture, Republic of Sudan. “Beyond a sole focus on metrics, it is important to balance short-term demands with the long-term opportunities of climate change.”

The need, of course, is growing: As IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze pointed out, agriculture in many parts of the world is already being severely affected by climate change. At a global level, average yields are expected to shrink by up to 2 per cent every decade, while demand for food from a growing population is expected to rise 14 per cent each decade, until 2050.

“We need data,” said IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze. “Particularly in terms of vulnerability of rural areas.”

Co-hosted by the Director General of ADA, Mr Mohammed El Guerrouj, the event’s panel gathered eminent personalities, and was well-attended by the press.

Panel members H.E. Ibrahim El-Dukheri, Minister of Agriculture of Sudan; Dr Simon Young, Advisor to the CEO of ARC Ltd; Mme. Fatima Driouech, National meteorology service of Morocco; and Mr Abdelhamid Felloun (ADA) emphasized the importance of high-tech tools for decision-making at the policy level, and said that data like this, which puts climate change impacts in context, will make it easier to mobilize financing.

The panel agreed that the potential for scaling up this type of study is great, and offers a real opportunity for exchange and south-south cooperation. The IFAD President stated that this tool can be broadened to Sub-Saharan Africa and shared with other African countries through the triple A initiative (Adaptation of African Agriculture).

Before being interviewed about the climate change tool by Medi1 TV, one of the main Moroccan TV channels, IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze thanked the ADA for their support. “IFAD is very much appreciative of the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in Morocco for taking this initiative, which we hope will spread into other parts of Africa,” he said. “In Morocco, this is actually a pilot, and we hope that it will generate expected results.”

The Director General of ADA, Mr Mohammed El Guerrouj, thanked IFAD for its support to Morocco, and recognized the importance of the tool to better target the adaptation activities and mobilize climate finance.