FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

Regional Initiative - Sustainable and Resilient Agriculture

The regional priority of Sustainable and Resilient Agriculture promotes actions that encourage agricultural, fisheries, livestock and forestry production, and considers the integration of biodiversity, the maintenance of ecosystem services, the reduction of carbon emissions, adaptation to climate change, disaster risk management and resilience.

In a COVID-19 scenario, Latin America and the Caribbean confront the great challenge of transforming their agriculture and agrifood systems to achieve more prosperous, sustainable and resilient production.

Regional Initiative - Sustainable and Resilient Agriculture

A biodiverse agriculture for the future

Latin America and the Caribbean, which covers 16% of the planet's land surface and 9% of the population, contains 50% of the world's biodiversity, 23% of total forest cover, 31% of fresh water and 12% of the land currently under cultivation.

This natural wealth is the basis for abundant and diverse agricultural and food production.

However, activities such as agriculture, forestry and land use change generate 24% of the region's global greenhouse gas emissions, which increase climate variability and extreme weather events.

At the same time, biodiversity and ecosystem services are critical to rural livelihoods. Pollinators, for example, are essential to 35% of the world's agricultural production.

To ensure food and nutritional security, increased competition for natural resources and deal with the climate crisis, there is an urgent need to explore the enormous opportunities for environmental, economic and social synergies that can be derived from green and blue growth models.

Sustainable production and growth

The transformation of agriculture in Latin America and the Caribbean could:

  • Maintain and even expand the role of the agricultural sector as an engine of regional economic development based on more sustainable and climate-resilient production, making efficient use and management of natural resources and fully developing the region's potential as a source of green and blue food.
  • To preserve and restore the region's extraordinary natural heritage, to continue contributing to global environmental balances and dynamics, and to preserve the productive base and natural heritage of Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Promote the inclusion of rural territories, protecting livelihoods, promoting resilience and disaster risk management.

Main Topics

  • Sustainable and efficient agricultural production is feasible.
  • Ecosystem services, management and use of biodiversity as a basis for production.
  • The agricultural sector in Latin America and the Caribbean: a key player in the global environmental and climate change agenda.
  • Financing for climate and environmental action in the agricultural sector
  • Digital agriculture and innovation: moving towards more productive, sustainable and resilient food systems
  • Improving the resilience of farmers and communities to threats and risks
  • Effective responses to disasters, emergencies and crises
  • Blue growth, an opportunity for food security, economic growth and sustainable development.
  • One Health: safeguarding human, animal and plant health, to reduce disease and threats, ensuring safe food through responsible management of natural resources.
  • Sustainable and resilient agriculture, an opportunity for recovery with transformation post COVID-19.

Rebuilding better after COVID-19

The combined effects of the global spread of the disease by COVID-19, the pandemic's prevention and control measures, and the global recession are likely to disrupt the functioning of agrifood systems, exposing their vulnerabilities.

Estimates indicate that economic growth in the region may fall between 9.1% and 9.4% by 2020. Furthermore, poverty is expected to rise to its highest levels in two decades, affecting 230.9 million people (including 96.2 million living in extreme poverty), and millions of jobs will be lost.

The effects of climate change and the depletion of natural resources continue to increase with the COVID-19 crisis.

This is the right time to act in order to guide agriculture and food systems towards sustainable and resilient growth that contributes to the well-being of the population and allows Latin America and the Caribbean to continue to be relevant in global food production, for growth, poverty reduction and post-pandemic economic recovery.

The transformation towards a sustainable and resilient agriculture is necessary. These challenges will be the main engine of change and growth for the agricultural sector in the region in the coming decades.


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