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Climate resilience: synergies between Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate-Smart Agriculture

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Agriculture as a catalyst for synergies between Disaster Risk Reduction and climate change governance

Initiatives that integrate disaster risk reduction and climate-smart agriculture have to be implemented locally, but to do this requires a broader enabling environment that is supported by institutions capable of putting plans into action (see also module C1 on institutional capacity development and module C3 on policies and programmes). This chapter looks at the different elements of disaster risk governance, including institutional mechanisms, public investment, legislations, and accountability, which are needed for the systematic cross-sectoral mainstreaming of disaster risk management. It provides examples of synergies between the policies and institutional and planning frameworks that address disaster risks and the plans and programmes that address climate change in agriculture. Particular attention is paid to adaptation goals and the potential co-benefits they can deliver with regard to the sustainable intensification of agricultural production and climate change mitigation.

C5 - 3.1 Regional initiatives on integrated approaches to Disaster Risk Reduction, climate change, and resilience

Regional disaster risk reduction initiatives offer the potential for establishing collaborative international arrangements and catalysing climate-smart agriculture. There are six regional platforms for disaster risk reduction in place in Africa, the Americas, the Arab States, Asia, Europe, and the Pacific. The work carried out through or with these regional platforms enhances the coherence of different efforts, helps to build synergies and taps into existing expertise and practice.

In addition to the regional platforms, a number of intergovernmental organizations have developed disaster risk reduction strategies or frameworks for regional cooperation. Some examples are listed below. 

  • The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has developed the Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER).
  • The African Union has formulated the Africa Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction and adopted a Programme of Action for the Implementation of the Africa Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction. Africa’s regional economic communities, including the Economic Community of Central African States, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern Africa Development Community and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development are key partners in the implementation of the strategy (World Bank and GFDRR, 2010).
  • In 2009, the Andean countries prepared the Andean Strategy for Disaster Prevention and Relief.
  • In 2010, Central American heads of state adopted the legally binding Central American Integrated Policy on Disaster Risk Reduction, which aims at an improved regional commitment to disaster risk reduction through a common guiding framework (UNISDR, 2011).
  • Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific, 2017-2030 (FRDP) is a regional process that provides scope for linking disaster risk reduction and climate-smart agriculture. The Framework, which promotes an integrated approach for addressing climate change and disaster risk management, also provides voluntary guidelines for the Pacific Islands Region. The framework has three main goals (Figure C5.5): strengthened integrated adaptation and risk reduction to enhance resilience to climate change and disasters; low-carbon development; improved disaster preparedness, response and recovery. It recognizes the important role of different economic sectors, referring in particular to agriculture, fisheries, forestry, for implementing cross-cutting measures that address climate change and disaster risk reduction in tandem. However, the Framework does not enter deeply into sectoral issues. This is an area where disaster risk reduction and climate-smart agriculture could make a valuable contribution.

Figure C5.5.  The three strategic goals, with the importance of a sound enabling environment for implementation and multistakeholder engagement.

Source: The Pacific Community (SPC), 2016.

C5 - 3.2 National institutional structures and policy frameworks for disaster risk reduction

The mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction in agriculture, and climate-smart agriculture in particular, requires legal and policy frameworks, national strategies and action plans, coordination mechanisms, adequate budget allocations, and technical capacities to implement action plans at all levels. This chapter provides examples of existing disaster risk reduction mechanisms that can be used as a basis for policies and programmes that support climate-smart agriculture. It also looks at the ways these institutional mechanisms need to be strengthened and the capacities of different stakeholders developed to ensure a country-driven and country-owned approach that can deliver sustainable results.

Legislation on disaster risk reduction

Legal frameworks provide guidance and direction to the implementation of disaster risk reduction at the national and local level. Enhanced risk and safety standards in all aspects of disaster risk reduction (e.g early warning systems) are crucial for enhancing the responsibilities of different sectors and ensuring their accountability.

A good example is the Namibia Disaster Risk Management Act of 2012. The law places a strong emphasis on disaster risk reduction. The law, which promotes an integrated and well-coordinated approach among government institutions, clearly outlines their respective responsibilities. The Directorate of Disaster Risk Management coordinates specific disaster risk reduction strategies, and each government institution is then responsible in providing training on disaster risk reduction to their staff in their decentralized offices and at the local level (IFRC and UNDP, 2014).

Despite increased commitments to climate change adaptation, especially in developing countries, relatively few countries have yet adopted legislation related to climate change adaptation or climate-smart agriculture. In countries where there is clear legislation on disaster risk reduction and management, this can form an essential component of the enabling environment that is needed to achieve climate-smart agriculture’s multiple objectives. However, unlike many disaster risk reduction and management laws, climate change legislation (if it exists) is often administrated separately by the Ministry of Environment. This institutional gap creates an unfavourable situation where current risks linked with development are addressed in a way that is not aligned with efforts to reduce new emerging risks related to climate change. In practice, the integration of disaster risk reduction and climate-smart agriculture require a coherent institutional platform that can allow cross-sectoral coordination.

Multisectoral platforms for disaster risk reduction

In the 2015 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction countries reported substantial progress in developing national legislation, establishing institutional arrangements, and formulating policies and planning frameworks for disaster risk reduction. In 2015 14 countries had set up national institutional arrangements for disaster risk reduction. Since 2007, more than 120 countries have enacted legal or policy reforms in this area. Over 190 countries have created focal points for disaster risk reduction, and 85 have established national multistakeholder platforms that bring together various stakeholders (UNISDR, 2015c). (See module C1 on multistakeholder platforms). In Sri Lanka, the National Disaster Management Coordination Committee consists of 35 members from key sectors, including representatives of the Ministries of Environment, Home Affairs and Agriculture, the Department of National Planning, the Coastal Conservation Department, the Department for Irrigation and the Department of Meteorology (UNISDR, 2008). National disaster risk reduction platforms provide a solid foundation countries can use to build collaborative mechanisms to catalyse climate-smart agriculture. These multistakholder platforms are especially important, since in most countries, disaster risk reduction and climate change are coordinated through different specialized bodies or agencies, which are often responsible for leading efforts to mainstream of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation issues into different sectors. However, they tend to rely on their own coordination mechanisms and platforms rather than on deeply imbedded cross-sectoral mechanisms. There is a need for greater coordination and coherence between the institutional arrangements, policies and planning designed for climate change adaptation (e.g. National Adaptation Programmes) and those that have been set up for disaster risk reduction (IISD, 2011).

Addressing the humanitarian development divide

Adequate financing is another indispensable component in disaster risk governance (see module C4 on financing and investment). When a disaster hits, the willingness to invest in risk and vulnerability reduction is usually high. This explains why most of the disaster risk reduction funds come from humanitarian organizations. However, more than 95 percent of humanitarian finance is still spent on disaster response, with only the remaining five percent dedicated to reducing the risk of disasters (FAO, 2015). As with climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction requires long-term commitments, which are often not possible to guarantee during emergency situations. Earmarked funding for disaster risk reduction from development and humanitarian budgets and other channels, such as climate financing, is needed. Making a shift to climate-smart agriculture can open up funding opportunities that allow for a more efficient and effective use of disaster risk reduction practices, tools, and methodologies and ensure that they contribute to sustainable development and climate change adaptation. There has been a recognition of the co-benefits that can be obtained from mutually supporting efforts to integrate disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, particularly in sectors that are sensitive to climatic hazards, such as agriculture. As a result, more countries are looking to initiatives that can achieve this sort of integration. The strong involvement of a range of sectors is crucial in shaping and implementing national integrated climate change and disaster risk reduction plans.

Many countries with national disaster risk reduction platforms have strategic national action plans for disaster risk reduction that set priorities for risk reduction and guide the direction of interventions. However, these plans do not necessarily call for the strong involvement of different sectors. A FAO study, Mainstreaming disaster risk reduction in agriculture: An assessment of progress made against the Hyogo Framework for Action, prepared as an input paper for the 2015 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction, noted that in 30 high-risk countries nearly half of the plans in agriculture refer to disaster risk reduction. Most of these plans explicitly refer to the linkages between disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Bangladesh, Belize, Cambodia, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Lao People's Democratic Republic Nepal, Paraguay, the Philippines, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are examples of countries that have developed disaster risk management plans and climate change adaptation for the agriculture sectors. In Nepal, the Priority Framework for Action for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management in Agriculture promotes policy coherence by drawing on the actions previously outlined in the National Adaptation Programme of Action and in the National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management. The Philippines is also in the process of fully integrating climate change into its disaster risk reduction actions, including in the agriculture sectors. This approach builds a solid foundation for climate-smart agriculture. The policy environment in the Philippines that promotes a mutually supportive relationship between disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation is described in Box C5.3.

Box C5.3 The enabling policy environment in the Philippines; linking disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation

The Philippine's Climate Change Act, which was enacted in 2009, was the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. It recognizes that climate change and disaster risk reduction are closely intertwined, and that effective disaster risk reduction will enhance adaptive capacities to cope with climate change (UNISDR, 2011): The act also called for the establishment of a Climate Change Commission attached to the Office of the President and an advisory board composed of all relevant line ministries. 

In 2010, the country enacted the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, which includes a policy to mainstream disaster risk reduction and climate change into socio-economic development planning, budgeting, and governance, including the agriculture sectors. Under the act, local government units are obliged to use at least 5 percent of their budgets for disaster risk reduction. The act also institutionalized the obligatory formulation of integrated disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation plans by the local government units, and forms the basis for the disbursement of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation funding at local levels. 

The National Framework Strategy on Climate Change, 2010-2022 integrates disaster risk reduction, including the enhancement of monitoring, forecasting and hazard warning systems, and mainstreams disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation into development and land-use planning based on disaster risk assessments. Similarly, one of the goals laid out in the country's National Development Plan is to increase the agriculture sectors' resilience to climate change risks (Republic of the Philippines National Economic and Development Authority, 2011).

In 2015, the above policy and legislative frameworks catalysed the development of two Regional Action Plans for Disaster Risk Reduction in Agriculture in Bicol and Caraga, and an overarching national, sector-specific Strategic Plan of Action for Disaster Risk Reduction in Agriculture and Fisheries, which is aligned to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, national disaster risk reduction goals and the Climate Change Act developed. FAO provided technical support in this process.

In 2016, Cambodia adopted its Climate Change Priorities Action Plan for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Sector (CCPAP) 2016-2020. The action plan, which promotes synergies between interventions related to climate change and disaster risk reduction, acknowledges that the impacts of climate change on the agricultural sectors are mainly felt through more frequent and intense weather hazards, and that most disaster risk reduction measures applied now will also enhance adaptation to climate change in the future. 

The importance of integrating disaster risk management measures into adaptation planning has also been recognized in several Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), the documents that Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) submitted as part of the foundation of the Paris Agreement in 2015. In total, 131 countries included priority areas for adaptation or adaptation actions in the agriculture sectors in their INDCs. Of these 131 countries, 47 countries, nearly half of which were least-developed countries, mentioned disaster risk management in the agriculture sectors. The majority of these countries are in sub-Saharan Africa, with many often referring to the need to invest in enhancing disaster preparedness and early warning systems. Asian countries also often refer to the agriculture sectors in the context of disaster risk management (62 percent of the countries in East Asia and Southeast Asia, 38 percent in South Asia) (FAO, 2016a). 

Parties to the UNFCCC are currently ratifying their INDCs to turn them into Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and developing national adaptation plans. These processes provide an important opportunity to further institutionalize the integration of disaster risk management and climate change adaptation. This integration helps reduce the resources required for supporting climate-smart agricultural development and often delivers climate change mitigation co-benefits.

Technical capacities for putting words into action

The state of existing technical capacities and expertise for disaster risk reduction within agriculture varies considerably from one country to another. Because activities related to disaster risk reduction (e.g. breeding of hazard-tolerant varieties and the monitoring and mitigation of plant pests and diseases) have long been part of regular development activities in agriculture, funding for these activities has often not been explicitly labelled as funding for disaster risk reduction. Enhancing technical capacities for disaster risk reduction at the individual and organizational levels and throughout the institutions that make up the enabling environment must be based on sound needs assessments. Capacity development will enable sectoral ministries to better carry out their responsibilities and proactively address disaster risk reduction planning and implementation at national, subnational and local levels. This would also involve subnational mechanisms and actions that support farming communities and promote resilient livelihoods (UN, 2014). See also module C1 on system-wide capacity development. 

By aligning cross-sectoral development approaches so that they work together to simultaneously respond to the pressing need to intensify sustainable agricultural production and address climate change adaptation and mitigation, climate-smart agriculture can help agricultural sectors overcome what the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability (2012) has called “the legacy of fragmented institutions established around single-issue ‘silos’ and move towards integrated thinking and policymaking”. An inclusive and coherent pathway for climate-smart agriculture requires building bridges that connect the institutional architecture that supports disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, and promoting cross-sectoral dialogue and collective actions to benefit vulnerable agricultural communities (see module C3-4). A strategic approach for planning climate-smart agriculture programmes begins by taking stock of what is already in place at the country level and identifying the key gaps that need to be addressed to better manage risks and climate change in the agriculture sectors. Given the institutional constraints and limited resources in many developing countries, this is a sound, cost-effective approach.

C5 - 3.2 Community-based approaches to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation

Community disaster risk management is a process developed in the 1980s to allow communities at risk to become actively engaged in the identification, analysis, treatment, monitoring and evaluation of disaster risks in ways that reduce their vulnerabilities and enhance their capacities (Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, 2004). 

Community based adaptation is similar process that has been promoted since late 1990s to support climate change adaptation at the local level. Both community disaster risk management and community based adaptation are key processes for building the resilience of livelihoods in agricultural areas. They both use a bottom-up grassroots approach, target the same populations and apply the same participatory methods. However, given the distinct history of climate change adaptation, community based adaptation and community disaster risk management are often distinct in the way they are put in practice. They are often carried out through separate projects and funding mechanisms. Bridging this gap is a challenge that needs to be overcome. As the example from Uganda in Box C5.7 indicates, the need for an integrated approach is clear at the local community level, where multiple risks converge and threaten the lives and livelihoods of households and farming communities.

Climate-smart agriculture should build on the valuable opportunities found in the short- and long-term measures that community disaster risk management and community based adaptation promote through projects and partnerships at the local level. Through existing community disaster risk management practices, climate-smart agriculture initiatives can support measures that farmers have prioritized because they address known and immediate risks and provide tangible improvements to household food security. At the same time, community based adaptation projects can complement these disaster risk reduction initiatives by using innovative measures to address the longer-term and gradual impact of climate change. For local authorities working in an environment facing institutional and financial constraints, an integrated approach to climate-smart agriculture will help reduce the administrative burden and cost of managing a wide range of community based adaptation and community disaster risk management projects. These win-win benefits optimize resources and make aid more cost-effective.

The case of Papua New Guinea presented in Box C5.4 indicates the value of combining disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation at the community level to guide agricultural practice.

Box C5.4 Integrated community approaches to disaster risk reduction and adaptation in Papua New Guinea

In Papua New Guinea, a community-based framework for disaster risk reduction used participatory techniques, such as guided discovery, mapping exercises, timelines and matrix rankings to collect information from community members on village history, hazards and event timelines, maps, and environmental and social trends. This baseline information was used to identify, in collaboration with communities, underlying vulnerability factors, both external and internal. Communities identified past and present indigenous and scientific strategies used, and prioritized possible strategies for reducing risk and vulnerability. This disaster risk reduction framework met short-term needs and addressed risks related to floods, storms, landslides, and volcanic eruptions.

The framework was then used as a practical entry point for discussing why and how communities are also vulnerable to climate change, and what measures could be taken to address these vulnerabilities. The concerns and priorities of communities identified in the disaster risk reduction framework were combined with assessments of climate change impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation on small island developing states prepared by Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (CICERO and UNEP/GRID-Arendal, 2008). External scientific information on the historical and potential future consequences of climate variability and change (e.g. satellite observations and downscaled climate projections) were integrated to prepare short- and long-term scenarios. Invasive species were identified as an additional threat that could change the pest or disease profile of local agricultural systems. To identify indigenous strategies for reducing vulnerability to climate change, the focus was placed on determining how local communities had responded to longer-term changes in the past.

Source: Kelman et al., 2009

Another community-driven approach to building resilience to shocks caused by natural or man-made disasters is Caisses de Résilience, which FAO has piloted together with its partners in a number of African countries (Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Malawi, Mali Senegal and Uganda). It promotes an integrated way of programming by working simultaneously on three mutually reinforcing dimensions: technical, financial, and social. This approach has shown to have a multiplier effect in the livelihoods of men and women farmers and pastoralists by increasing and diversifying incomes and household and community assets, two key elements for increasing livelihood resilience. The approach enables vulnerable households to address the root causes of their vulnerabilities and helps them build resilience to potential shocks related to protracted crisis and natural hazards, including those associated with climate change (FAO, 2016b; FAO Emergencies Website, 2014). 

The expansion and institutionalization of community disaster risk management in many parts of Asia and Latin America offers a broad platform on which climate-smart agriculture can build. In Southeast Asia, progress has been made in mainstreaming community disaster risk management into socio-economic development policies, including national, subnational and local action plans, that build community resilience (European Commission et al., 2008).