How we're transforming food systems under a changing climate
A year on, the initiative is delivering on the actions it set out for a climate-smart future.
‘The Actions to Transform Food Systems Under Climate Change’ report (the ‘transformation report’ hereafter) proposed 11 transformative actions across four action areas: reroute, de-risk, reduce, and realign.
Looking back since the launch, there is clear evidence of progress made globally on each of the actions proposed by the transformation report.
To supplement a CCAFS blog I co-authored with Lisa Rebert on how the transformation report is igniting action in a mega year for climate diplomacy, this research highlight explores many of the activities under each of the four action areas.
These actions have been led by CCAFS and its partners over the last year, and show great promise for major transformation on a global scale.
Remember, this is just the beginning. If you have ideas on how to act, get in touch.
Reroute farming and rural livelihoods to new trajectories
Joining forces to protect the world’s forests through responsible and sustainable trade, 24 countries launched the Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Dialogue for the UN COP26 climate summit.
It has taken significant steps to foster concrete and robust government commitments on zero-deforestation and sustainable agriculture, promoting sustainable trade and supply chains of agricultural commodities.
Through multi-stakeholder consultations, the FACT Dialogue aims to agree on principles for collaborative action, a shared roadmap on sustainable land use and international trade, and take action that protects forests, all the while promoting development and trade.
The countries brought together under FACT are major players in the production and consumption of commodities as beef, soy and palm oil. The agreement helps them trade more sustainably through joint statements of principles for collaboration.
Actively involved in the Research and Innovation FACT Working Group, CCAFS provides technical support to the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and by extension the government of Brazil.
100 Million Farmers
The World Economic Forum (WEF) launched the 100 Million Farmers initiative to support local solutions that empower farmers and consumers to put climate, nature and resilience at the core of the global food economy.
It incentivizes 100 million farmers to adopt regenerative and climate smart practices to create multiple benefits such as economic end environment resilience, improved livelihoods, soil health, enhanced biodiversity and improved water quality.
As part of the 100 Million Farmers initiative, several organizations and stakeholders representing different components of the food value chain have joined forces to decarbonize the European food system.
CCAFS engaged in the Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) project in East Africa, which catalyzes 34 million euros of sustainable finance co-investments with the private sector.
CRAFT targets over 235,000 smallholder farmers in seven priority value-chains across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. It revitalizes and facilitates access to input and output markets for agricultural services and products.
CRAFT invests in interventions that accelerate the adoption of CSA technologies and practices, making it attractive for co-investments from the partnering private sector.
Africa Improved Foods
Africa Improved Foods (AIF) announced an expansion from Rwanda to 10 additional African countries by 2030. It provides climate‐resilient and financially rewarding value chains to more than two million smallholder farmers, which enhances the nutrition for more than 100 million consumers and catalyzes more than a $1 billion of private-sector investment. Studies by CCAFS shaped the AIF expansion strategy into Kenya and Ethiopia, and this initiative promises to be a huge global stimulus to increase the prosperity of millions of farmers and marginalized people.
There are compelling small scale examples of what such investments can deliver. CCAFS engaged with West African initiatives that direct investment into rural infrastructure, where collaboration with national governments and policy platforms led to bankable proposals being developed.
Tangible results have been realized in Mali, where CCAFS financed the acquisition of an agrometeorological station in one of its Climate Smart Villages (CSVs). This investment supports the adaptive capacity of the local communities and steers the agricultural production system towards greater automation.
De-Risk livelihoods, farms and value chains
R4 Rural Resilience Initiative
The CCAFS-affiliated International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) at Columbia University worked with the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative in Ethiopia to build tools for the participatory design of agricultural index insurance.
These tools enable local partners to make data-driven decisions about index insurance contracts on a scale that is both deeper (customized for each village) and wider than ever before, reaching 60,000 households in 230 villages throughout 2021.
This investment directly enabled the World Food Programme (WFP) to reach its 2022 target of providing a million smallholder farmers in Ethiopia with affordable insurance against droughts and other climate risks.
Because of the success of this approach in Ethiopia, R4 has launched similar insurance scale-up efforts in Senegal and Zambia.
Investment Blueprint for Digital Climate Advisory Services
Scaling advisories is crucial if we are to reach millions of farmers, and to do this you have to go digital.
IRI worked collaborated with the Global Commission on Adaptation, World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) on an Investment Blueprint on Digital Climate Advisory Services (DCAS) to improve climate resilience for 300 million smallholder producers.
The blueprint will be launched in Summer 2021, and is focused on digital services range from mobile apps, radio and online platforms to digitally-enabled printed bulletins with climate models, extension services, which are still too often fragmented for smallholder farmers.
In Senegal, previous collaborations with the Senegalese National Meteorological Agency resulted in a nationwide transmission of seasonal forecasts via rural community radio stations and SMS, which potentially reached 7.4 million rural people across Senegal.
In 2020, another 500,000 farmers accessed weather and climate information services through mobile phones and the radio. These cases provide tangible examples of how advisories can be taken to scale to reach millions of farmers.
Reduce emissions from diets and value chains
Together with Impossible Foods, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and Limestone Analytics, CCAFS is investigating alternative meat investment options in low- and middle-income countries, and their potential impacts on food security, land use, climate and biodiversity - including the business cases for producing plant-based meat in specific countries.
This work is expected to be completed by August 2021, with results shared at the UN Food Systems Summit.
Food loss and waste
Food and agri-business company Olam used science developed by CCAFS and Wageningen Food & Biobased Research in Nigeria to identify threshing and harvesting as hotspots for food losses in rice farming communities. Using the Agro-Chain Greenhouse Gas Emissions (ACE) Calculator – developed by CCAFS - they identified interventions with significant reductions in food loss, and the scaling of this project could reach 700,000 Nigerian farmers.
Realign policies, finance, support to social movements, and innovation
The CCAFS Scenarios Project investigates ways participatory scenario planning can guide better policymaking for food and agriculture sectors in the face of climate change. It works in 30 countries, with several examples of positive influence on the viability and impact of policy.
Unlocking finance is essential for establishing a global transformation. Just as important, however, is to make sure that available funds are aligned with pathways that foster sustainable transformation.
CCAFS' development of the Climate Smart Food Systems Fund forms the basis of the Green Climate Fund’s agricultural strategy, directing future flows of billions of dollars in investment.
Furthermore, the CGIAR partnered with responsAbility Investments AG through a USD 200 million impact investment fund to provide capital to SMEs developing countries to meet key food system challenges. The fund's strategy is informed by key recommendations from the 'transformation report'.
Engaging youth action is crucial in transforming food systems under climate change. Future generations are vulnerable to current and future impacts of climate change, but also offer ways forward as important agents of change in their households, schools, business ventures, communities, countries and regions.
The transformation report wants to reach 10 million young people with science-based social movements by 2025. To this end, CCAFS supports the Act4Food Act4Change campaign led by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) which aims to mobilize millions of young people for change.
CCAFS is organizing an event - Driving Global Youth Action for Climate Adaptation in Food Systems - at the ‘Pre-COP’ summit in Italy in September 2021, to encourage young people to engage in the campaign, raise awareness about the need for climate adaptation in food systems, and bring these outcomes to COP26 in ways that inspire policymakers.
CCAFS hosted a workshop that connected young people from all around the world with cutting edge science on climate change, agriculture and food security at the Youth for Climate Adaptation conference.
Our team also participated in the International Conference for Youth in Agriculture (ICYA) conference, which proved to be excellent opportunities to engage with youth and empower younger generations to get actively involved in food system challenges.
The final action of the 'transformation report' focuses on delivering impact on a large scale. To achieve this, CCAFS created strong links with high-level conferences that take place throughout 2021.
First, CCAFS established a strong presence within the UN Food Systems Summit and its various action tracks and innovation ‘levers’.
As part of the Nature campaign for COP26, CCAFS and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) launched a new global campaign - Transforming Agricultural Innovation for People, Nature and Climate.
Such high-level engagement mobilizes and aligns investments into agricultural research and more climate-resilient food systems.
CCAFS has commissioned studies this campaign on the evidence available to us on transforming agricultural innovation systems under climate change, covering (among other things) transformative end-to-end innovation.