Making the case for dual nutrition and climate adaptation goals

New report from the International Fund for Agricultural Development draws on CCAFS and A4NH knowledge.

Can rural farming households achieve better nutrition without considering the effects of climate change? Can they adequately adapt to climate change if already affected by malnutrition? How do we incorporate nutrition and climate adaptation into building future food systems that are more sustainable and healthier?

A new report by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), with contributions from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) concludes that the answer to both of these questions is no. People in households already struggling under the burdens of malnutrition don’t have the resources to become climate-resilient, while those suffering the negative consequences of climate change are at an increased risk of becoming malnourished in the face of degraded land, increased rainfall variability, and other climate change impacts. With so many already grappling with one or the other of these challenges, to truly have an impact, we must look for solutions that will address them both.

The report, ‘The Nutrition Advantage: Harnessing nutrition co-benefits of climate-resilient agriculture’, highlights the ways in which investments can be made for multiple benefits for livelihoods, agriculture, and nutrition. Through collaboration with CCAFS and A4NH, IFAD began incorporating both climate-resilient and nutrition-sensitive aspects into their projects of the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP). This USD 300 million programme provides funding to help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change.

Case studies featured in the report show how working toward two different but related goals can help better achieve each. For example, an IFAD project in Bolivia is helping potato farmers use enhanced indigenous adaptation strategies to cope with reduced rainfall and depleted soils. The resulting improved harvests can help reduce malnutrition among vulnerable communities.

CCAFS and A4NH recognize the need for collaboration on climate change and nutrition. We might achieve good results working separately, but we could achieve great results by working more closely together. Gender is an excellent example of an area where our joint efforts can complement and benefit each other, enhancing progress towards achieving gender, nutrition, and climate change goals simultaneously. This is a better deal not only for donors, but also for millions of people worldwide, and  the Gender, Climate Change, and Nutrition Integration Initiative led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) is exploring how such integration efforts can be delivered.

Achieving multiple goals simultaneously reflects the needs of the communities we aim to serve. People in rural areas in the countries where we work will never name just one aspect of life they want to improve. Their hopes and aspirations span a broad spectrum: better yields, greater capacity to adapt to climate, healthier and well-nourished children, gender equality, and much more.

President Macron stated at the One Planet summit this week: “We’re not moving quick enough. We all need to act.” The new IFAD report can help our programs and others like us identify ways we can all act and achieve moretogether. Let's “Make Our Planet Great Again”.

Download the report: The Nutrition Advantage Harnessing nutrition co-benefits of climate-resilient agriculture