Climate Change

Investing in climate solutions for sustainable agri-food systems


A common understanding is taking root: the way we produce food mirrors our relationship with each other and nature. The more inclusive and equitable agriculture is, the better health, nutrition and food security we experience as a global community.

But when we zoom in on today’s agri-food systems, we see the cracks in our relationship with nature: Unsustainable agriculture is a major driver of climate change; at the same time, climate change threatens food production in some of the world’s poorest areas. So how do we fix the system?

For the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the game-changing solution for a more just, sustainable and low-carbon future lies in transforming agri-food systems. Currently, the world's food systems generate more than 33 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and cause up to 80 percent of biodiversity loss.

Yet, changes in the way we grow and produce food accelerate progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the global climate goal etched in the Paris Agreement – to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Partnering for climate action

As a specialized agency of the UN, FAO works with its global partners to boost climate action with projects that promote sustainable forest and land use, restore ecosystems, increase food and water security, and build the resilience of vulnerable communities to shocks and crises.

Through its partnership with the Green Climate Fund (GCF), FAO has helped countries secure close to $900 million for high-impact GCF projects with the potential to transform the agriculture sector into a climate solution.

“It’s time to move the needle on fixing the system. The road to a green and climate-resilient future is before us, and if we act together, no one will be left behind,” says Eduardo Mansur, Director of FAO’s Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment. “By increasing countries’ access to climate finance, we can turn climate commitments into actions that benefit people and the planet, and at the same time, boost green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Growing solutions across the globe

Over the last two years, FAO and its partners in Chile have been working on a sixty-three million dollar GCF project that champions women, indigenous peoples and vulnerable communities as key actors in the race to reduce GHG emissions and improve sustainable forest management.

Communities in Chile’s Maule region are already seeing the benefits of planting native trees which reduce soil erosion, restore soil fertility and increase ecosystem stability. More than 57 000 people are expected to benefit from the project’s positive social and environmental impacts, and about 25 000 hectares of native forest are to be restored.

In Nepal’s Churia region, vulnerable communities are taking action to restore soil fertility and forests with the help of a forty-seven million dollar GCF project, led by FAO. Lying in the foothills of the Himalayas, the Churia region is critical to maintaining the ecosystem of the heavily populated Terai plains and to ensuring  Nepal’s food security.

Restoring the areas’ vital ecosystem functions helps to regulate groundwater, increase flood control, and improve livelihoods. Nearly one million people, including women and indigenous peoples, will benefit from the project.

People and forests are also at the heart of a recently approved, FAO-led GCF project in the Republic of Congo. With over forty-six million dollars in climate investments, the PREFOREST project is set to tackle the main drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in the Congo Basin, and to improve the livelihoods of more than 40 000 vulnerable smallholder farmers.

Our actions are our future

Fresh on the heels of the UN Food Systems Summit in September, countries are exploring ways to change the way food is produced and consumed. The actions we take now, as a global community, will determine our future.

Only by working together can we empower each and every element of our agri-food systems to collaborate more fairly, sustainably and inclusively from farm to table, and beyond.