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FAO unveils 9-year strategic framework to tackle climate change

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Gilbert Ekugbe

The Council of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has launched a nine-year strategic framework to combat climate change on science, technology and innovation over the next decade .

The FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31 is expected to guide FAO’s efforts to transform agrifood systems and promote a food secure world for all, as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The strategic documents were endorsed in Rome by the 170th session of FAO’s executive body, at a time when the number of hungry people and growing threats to global food security are increasing.

“These two strategies are the extraordinary result of our collective efforts,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu told the Council.

In its own words: “The Climate Change Strategy will guide FAO to provide enhanced support to Members in their ambitions to address climate change in agrifood systems and in the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

“The Science and Innovation Strategy will benefit the billions of small-scale producers and their families who urgently need the best available science, technology and innovation to play their part in transforming our agri-food systems,” he said.

Both thematic strategies address the entire global agri-food system, which covers the journey of food from farm to fork – including where it is grown, fished, harvested, processed, packaged, transported, distributed, traded, purchased , prepared, consumed and disposed of. of.

Agri-food systems also encompass non-food products, such as forestry and aquaculture, including the sustainable management and conservation of related ecosystems, and all the activities, investments and choices that contribute to providing us with these food and agricultural products. which we need.

On climate change, the FAO said that resilient and productive terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems are the foundations of sustainable agrifood systems.

FAO pointed out that the latest scientific evidence from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirms the unequivocal and unprecedented climate risks facing the planet due to the intensification of waves of heat, heavy rainfall and droughts, fires and tropical cyclones.

The increase in extreme weather and climate events has already caused economic damage and exposed millions of people to acute food insecurity and reduced water security. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are particularly at risk due to warming ocean temperatures, ocean acidification and rising sea levels.

Given the already tangible impact of extreme weather events on food security, nutrition and poverty, “the urgency to address climate change has increased dramatically,” the Council said.

Global agri-food systems are responsible for about a third of total greenhouse gas emissions and are one of the main victims of climate change. FAO’s Climate Change Strategy 2022-2031 presents them as part of the solution.

Agri-food systems are seen as sustainable, inclusive, resilient and adaptive to climate change and its impacts, contributing to low-emission economies while providing sufficient, safe and nutritious food for healthy diets, as well as other products and agricultural services, for the time being. and future generations, leaving no one behind.

The strategy aims to address a wide range of interrelated challenges, including biodiversity loss, desertification, land and environmental degradation, the need for accessible renewable energy, and food and water security.

It is organized into three pillars: i) Global and regional levels (strengthening global and regional climate policy and governance); ii) National level (capacities of developing countries for climate action); iii) Local level (scaling up climate action on the ground).

Its guiding principles include the empowerment and engagement of farmers, livestock keepers, fishers, aquaculturists, indigenous peoples and forest-dependent peoples, adopting both traditional good practices and innovations, and based on scientific evidence.

The strategy is informed by science, prioritizes innovative solutions and inclusiveness, and recognizes the importance of increasing both funding and investment.

The report also added that FAO sees science and innovation as a powerful driver for transforming agrifood systems and ending hunger and malnutrition, but said they needed to be accompanied by strong institutions, good governance, political will, supportive regulatory frameworks and effective measures. promote equity between its actors.

Significant progress has been made in a range of scientific and technological fields, including biotechnology, data analysis and nuclear techniques in food and agriculture. Public-private partnerships are multiplying in research and development. At the same time, market concentration has heightened concerns about unequal access to resources and knowledge, both between countries and within social groups.

Challenges in harnessing science and innovation for agrifood systems range from underinvestment in research to gaps in the use of science and evidence for decision-making.

FAO’s Science and Innovation Strategy focuses on three pillars: i) Strengthening science and evidence-based decision-making; ii) Support innovation and technology at regional and national level; iii) Serving Members better by building FAO’s capacity.

Achieving the strategy’s vision means that all countries have access to the science and innovation they need to overcome the complex social, economic and environmental challenges facing their agrifood systems. Achieving this vision in a globally equitable, inclusive and sustainable way requires the active participation of underrepresented stakeholders – such as women and youth.

The two thematic strategies will be operationalized through action plans and are subject to a mid-term review by the Board five years after their adoption.