FAO.org

Home > Publications > sofa > The State of Food and Agriculture 2016
The State of Food and Agriculture 2016

Climate change, agriculture and food security

The Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015, represents a new beginning in the global effort to stabilize the climate before it is too late. It recognizes the importance of food security in the international response to climate change, as reflected by many countries focusing prominently on the agriculture sector in their planned contributions to adaptation and mitigation. To help put those plans into action, this report identifies strategies, financing opportunities, and data and information needs. It also describes transformative policies and institutions that can overcome barriers to implementation.

 

Key Messages

Food security and climate change: today’s and tomorrow’s challenges

Food security and climate change: today’s and tomorrow’s challenges

  • Climate change already affects agriculture and food security and, without urgent action, will put millions of people at risk of hunger and poverty.
  • While impacts on agricultural yields and livelihoods will vary across countries and regions, they will become increasingly adverse over time and potentially catastrophic in some areas.
  • Limiting global temperature increases to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.
  • Deep transformations in agriculture and food systems, from pre-production to consumption, are needed in order to maximize the co-benefits of climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.
  • The agriculture sectors have potential to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, but ensuring future food security requires a primary focus on adaptation.
  • Until about 2030, global warming is expected to lead to both gains and losses in the productivity of crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry, depending on places and conditions.
  • Beyond 2030, the negative impacts of climate change on agricultural yields will become increasingly severe in all regions.
  • In tropical developing regions, adverse impacts are already affecting the livelihoods and food security of vulnerable households and communities.
  • Because agriculture, land-use and forestry make a considerable contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, they have significant mitigation potential.

Smallholders needs support to adapt to climate change

Smallholders needs support to adapt to climate change

  • Global poverty cannot be eradicated without strengthening the resilience of smallholder agriculture to climate change impacts.
  • Smallholder agricultural systems can adapt to climate change by adopting climate-smart practices, diversifying on-farm agricultural production and diversifying into off-farm income and employment.
  • Sustainable management of natural resources will be key for adaptation to climate change and to ensure food security.
  • Improvements in infrastructure, extension, climate information, market access, credit and social insurance are needed to facilitate adaptation and diversification of smallholder livelihoods.
  • The costs of inaction are much greater than the costs of the interventions that would enable farmers, fisherfolk, herders and foresters to respond effectively to climate change.

Food systems in climate change mitigation

Food systems in climate change mitigation

  • The agriculture sectors face a unique challenge: to produce more food while reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by food production.
  • Agriculture could reduce its emission intensity, but not enough to counterbalance projected increases in its total emissions.
  • Addressing emissions from land use change driven by agricultural expansion is essential, but sustainable agricultural development will determine its success.
  • Although improvements in carbon and nitrogen management also reduce emissions, they are likely to be driven by adaptation and food security objectives, rather than mitigation goals.
  • Reducing emissions from agriculture also hinges on action to minimize food losses and waste and to promote sustainable diets.

Turning countries ‘commitment into action

Turning countries ‘commitment into action

  • The agriculture sectors feature prominently in nearly all the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions submitted by countries in preparation for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21).
  • In their INDCs, countries have made strong commitments to both adaptation and mitigation efforts in agriculture.
  • Follow-up action plans can only be effective if they are part of broader, transformative policies on agriculture, rural development, food security and nutrition.
  • The international community must support developing countries in strengthening their capacity to design and implement integrated policies that address agriculture and climate change.

Financing the way forward

Financing the way forward

  • International public finance for climate change adaptation and mitigation is a growing, but still relatively small, part of overall finance for the agriculture sectors.
  • More climate finance is needed to fund developing countries’ planned actions on climate change in agriculture.
  • Provided policies and institutional frameworks that promote transformative change are in place, international public climate finance can act as a catalyst to leverage larger flows of public and private funding for sustainable agriculture.
  • Capacity constraints currently hamper developing countries’ access to and effective use of climate finance for agriculture.
  • Innovative financial mechanisms can strengthen the capacity of financial service providers to manage risks related to climate change, helping to leverage investments for climate-smart agriculture.

The State of Food and Agriculture

About the series

The State of Food and Agriculture, FAO's major annual flagship publication, aims at bringing to wider audience balanced science-based assessments of important issues in the field of food and agriculture. Each edition of the report contains a comprehensive, yet easily accessible, overview of selected topic of major relevance for rural and agriculture development and for global food security.