FAO and the GEF

Partnering for Sustainable Agriculture and the Environment

FAO mainstreams climate risk assessments in its GEF project design for post-COVID-19 recovery

Following guidance from the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel, FAO has established and implemented a robust climate risk assessment procedure across the FAO-GEF project concepts part of the June 2020 work program under GEF-7. The climate risk screening process ensured that climate resilience was integrated into the $176 million FAO portfolio of projects approved by the GEF Council in the most recent work program.

The 24 projects, spanning several GEF focal areas, from land degradation to sustainable fisheries, highlight the trust of recipient governments and the commitment of both agencies to ambitious environmental and climate action. The new climate risk screening system ensures that FAO’s efforts to build sustainable agriculture and food systems during the COVID-19 crisis are also climate-resilient. 

Why screen climate risks? 

Climate variability and change create challenges for managing human and natural systems. Weather-related disasters, extreme weather events, conflict and economic downturns are key drivers of the recent rise in hunger and malnutrition in the world. The COVID-19 crisis and its transboundary nature introduces new vulnerabilities and risks to agricultural production and value chains. While the crisis challenges livelihoods and agricultural systems around the world, it is also an opportunity to revisit risk management in a comprehensive way. Risk-informed decision-making is part of the solution to address the concurrent climate crisis and can bring about transformative change. 

How does it work?

All FAO-GEF project concepts approved in June 2020 were screened for climate risks to allow for timely inclusion of mitigation and resilience measures during project design and further development and, where necessary, a climate rationale was provided with more in-depth assessments. A screening checklist developed by FAO experts with a series of guiding questions was used to calculate climate risk as a function of hazard, exposure, vulnerability and adaptive capacity. 

The steps of climate risk screening process at FAO are as follows:

The screening process determines short- and long-term climate hazards that may impact or alter the outcomes of an investment and assesses the likelihood of the project increasing the vulnerability of the expected target populations to climate hazards.

How is it applied?

To date, FAO’s Climate Risks Team has produced risk screenings and recommendations for over 40 GEF-funded FAO projects across all GEF focal areas. The map below highlights the risk ratings of the GEF-7 portfolio as well as selected examples of main hazards and recommendations provided in Burkina Faso and India.

Map of climate risk ratings of the FAO-GEF portfolio with two examples of main hazards and recommendations provided for two projects in Burkina Faso and India

The climate risk screening system supports the existing tools and policies that are used for the portfolio's risk management and sustainability of agriculture and food systems. The climate risk screening procedure is being considered as part of FAO's revised Environmental and Social Standards, for application in all projects and programmes beyond the GEF portfolio.

For additional information please see the latest publication ‘Interim guidance: sustaining FAO’s commitment to Environmental and Social Standards during the COVID-19 pandemic’