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Calling for action to avert a crisis


An estimated 6 million people joined global protests calling for action on climate change in September 2019

© Speak Your Mind/Julian Koschorke

Climate change is a global crisis; millions of people are already suffering and the impacts are getting worse. Policies to mitigate and adapt to climate change are increasing but many argue that the window for action is closing and decision-makers need to do more, with greater urgency.

“Global actions to slow climate change are promising but insufficient,” state the authors of Adapt Now. “We must invest in a massive effort to adapt to conditions that are now inevitable: higher temperatures, rising seas, fiercer storms, more unpredictable rainfall, and more acidic oceans.” One of the key findings from this report by the Global Center on Adaptation is that investing US$1.8 trillion (€1.6 trillion) globally in five areas (early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved dryland agriculture, mangrove protection, and investments in making water resources more resilient) from 2020 to 2030 could generate US$7.1 trillion (€6.37 trillion) in total net benefits.

Designed to inspire action among decision-makers, Adapt Now makes the case for climate adaptation and provides specific insights and recommendations in key sectors, including food security and water. To ensure that climate impacts, risks and solutions are factored into decision-making at all levels, the report calls for revolutions in: understanding to ensure the risks are fully understood and reflected in the decisions public and private actors make; planning to improve how we make policy and investment decisions and how we implement solutions; and finance to mobilise funds and resources to accelerate adaptation.

“Transformation in food systems under a changing climate – to ensure food and nutrition security for all, today and tomorrow – will demand action from all actors,” state the authors of Transforming Food Systems Under Climate Change. The working paper from the CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security specifically highlights three areas of policy change that have the potential to be catalytic: reducing emissions and increasing resilience; tackling food loss and waste; and shifting diets to promote nutrition and sustainability. The authors state, however, that “global and regional policy are transformative only insofar as they are translated into ambitious national action with adequate support, including both public and private investment.” They conclude: “The challenge we face is significant, but so is the imperative to address it.”

The need for government action is also highlighted by a recent World Bank report, Productive Diversification in African Agriculture and its Effects on Resilience and Nutrition. The report, which calls for on-farm diversification to improve resilience to climate change, states that there is no one-size-fits all solution for fostering diversification. A selection of policy recommendations is provided that would enable governments to diversify agricultural production. One action highlighted is the need to invest more in agricultural research and development, focusing on practices, technologies and services that are gender, climate and nutrition-sensitive.

To maintain food security as the population increases and the negative impacts of climate change on vegetation increase, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest report, Climate Change and Land: Summary for Policymakersstates that better land management is essential. Designed as a key scientific input into forthcoming climate and environment negotiations – including the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (COP25), being held in December 2019 – the report states that appropriate design of policies, institutions and governance systems at all scales can contribute to land-related adaptation and mitigation, while facilitating the pursuit of climate-adaptive development. “Land already in use could feed the world in a changing climate and provide biomass for renewable energy, but early, far-reaching action across several areas is required,” emphasises Hans-Otto Pörtner, co-chair of the IPCC Working Group II. 

Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience
By M Bapna, C Brandon, C Chan et al.
The Global Center on Adaptation, 2019; 90 pp.

Transforming Food Systems Under Climate Change: Local to Global Policy as a Catalyst for Change
By T Rawe, M Antonelli, A Chatrchyan et al.
CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, 2019; 42 pp.

Productive Diversification in African Agriculture and its Effects on Resilience and Nutrition
Edited by C Heumesser & HA Kray
World Bank Group, 2019; 244 pp.

Climate Change and Land: Summary for Policymakers
By A Arneth, H Barbosa, T Benton et al.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2019; 43 pp.

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