Raising ambition for climate action in Latin America through transformation of food systems

Drawing on the latest scientific findings from the Transforming Food Systems Under a Changing Climate initiative, the CGIAR’s Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) organised an event at COP25 to look at the science-based solutions to catalyze a transformation across food systems in Latin America, thereby enabling countries to enhance their ambition for adaptation and mitigation.

Speaking at the event IFAD’s Director for Environment, Climate and Social Inclusion, Margarita Astralaga said that increased investment and commitment from a wide range of stakeholders are clearly needed to kick-start efforts to galvanize action towards food system transformation in the face of an impending climate crisis.

“Despite growing levels of climate finance, there is currently a dearth of investment in climate change adaptation. In 2016, US$455 billion was invested in climate finance, but only US$22 billion of this went to adaptation, with only US$5 billion going to agriculture, forestry, land-use, and natural resource management,” said Astralaga.

Effectively and efficiently targeting the most vulnerable rural stakeholders is paramount if inclusive food system transformation is to be achieved. In this regard, IFAD recently revised its Operational Guidelines on Targeting, reflecting the 2030 Agenda and the leaving no one behind principle.

At the project level, these guidelines are manifested in a number of actions. When designing a project, initial poverty and target group analyses are conducted in the project area. This involves a combination of methods including rapid assessment surveys, interviews, focus groups and utilising results and data from impact assessments or existing projects to guarantee effective targeting.

The risk associated with investing in projects related to food systems needs to be reduced. Due to an array of factors including market fluctuations and climate change, investors already see agriculture as a high-risk, low-return area for investment.

However, blending grant finance with loans enables projects to integrate climate adaptation in a cost effective, low risk and appealing manner. Once the benefits of adaptation become clear, the prospect of investing in food systems becomes more attractive to governments and the private sector alike.

This has certainly been the case with IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP). From approximately US$300 million, ASAP has so far been able to build the resilience of over 3.1 million people, bring 760,000 million hectares under climate-resilient practices, build the capacity of people and community groups to manage natural resources and climate risks, and engage in policy dialogue.

Governments have already responded, with the governments of Mozambique, Mali and Bolivia upscaling climate adaptation projects as a direct result of the positive effects and insights gleaned from ASAP grant financing.

Similarly, ASAP grant financing has stimulated increased interest and investment from the private sector by lowering risk. For every dollar of ASAP investment between US$0.77 and US$2.85 were leveraged from the private sector, affirming the efficacy of the programme in meaningfully engaging and collaborating with the private sector.

International bodies also have a large role to play in increasing the deployment of grant financing. Bodies like the Green Climate Fund (GCF) have the potential to catalyse massive investment from governments and the private sector. With US$9.78 billion pledged in replenishments for the next four years, the GCF is well placed to provide grant funding for adaptation to countries in Latin America.

Indeed, IFAD has agreed to implement a project in conjunction the GCF in Belize. The project will adopt a two-pronged approach consisting of simultaneously fostering climate resilient production practices and improving access to markets. The project involves US$6 million in grant financing that will enable smallholders to pilot climate resilient production practices across an array of value chains.

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