FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

FAST Partnership bridges climate funding gap in agrifood systems

©FAO/Tofik Babayev

04/06/2024, Budapest

Our agrifood systems are the backbone of global food production and are essential for achieving a more sustainable future. These systems have the potential to provide solutions for critical challenges like food insecurity, poverty, and climate change. However, they face a significant barrier: a lack of adequate funding, particularly when it comes to climate action.

According to a recent report published by the Climate Policy Initiative, a mere 4 percent of global climate finance reached agrifood systems between 2019 and 2020. This falls drastically short of what's needed and despite the crucial role of agrifood systems in climate change mitigation and adaptation. To achieve the ambitious goals outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement to effectively transform agrifood systems for climate action, experts estimate that mobilizing about USD 680 billion annually until 2030 is necessary.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is working to help address the financing gap through the multi-stakeholder Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation Partnership (FAST Partnership). 

“To unlock the potential of agrifood systems and reach the most vulnerable, we need more climate finance and better climate finance”, said Kaveh Zahedi, Director of FAO’s Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment.

Established at the Sharm el-Sheikh Climate Change Conference (COP27) in 2022 in Egypt, and championed by the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) under the Presidency of the United Arab Emirates, the FAST Partnership fosters collaboration between governments, intergovernmental organizations, civil society organizations, youth and farmers' organizations, multilateral development banks, and global and regional networks. Supported by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and hosted by FAO, the FAST Partnership aims to improve the quantity and the quality of climate finance going to agrifood systems, particularly focusing on benefitting smallholder farmers, women, youth, and Indigenous Peoples, who are often affected the most by the impacts of climate change.

Azerbaijan, a recent FAST Partnership Board Member and co-chair, will host this year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP29), where climate finance will be a central theme. This presents a critical opportunity to accelerate progress.

Addressing challenges and seizing opportunities in Europe and Central Asia

The State of the Global Climate report by the World Meteorological Organization and the Copernicus Earth Observation Programme of the European Union confirmed that 2023 was the warmest year on record, with the global average temperature approaching the 1.5 °C limit set by the Paris Agreement. The situation is particularly critical in Europe. This warming trend is fuelling an increase in extreme weather events like heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, and floods, all of which have a significant impact on agricultural production and food systems at large. 

FAO recognizes the unique challenges faced by each country in the region. To ensure maximum impact, FAO works closely with national governments in Europe and Central Asia to understand their specific priorities and challenges related to climate change and supports the development of national action plans to deliver on FAO’s Strategy on Climate Change, provides technical assistance, delivers capacity building programmes for farmers on climate-resilient agricultural practices suited to their local conditions. FAO also facilitates access to climate finance, including through the FAST Partnership. 

The FAST Partnership empowers its Members by identifying gaps in their access to climate finance and connecting them to relevant domestic and international funding opportunities focused on agrifood systems. It provides capacity building for Members on key topics such as the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Green Climate Fund (GCF), climate technologies for agrifood systems, and loss and damage. Additionally, the Partnership champions a holistic approach to climate finance, advocating for strong domestic climate policy frameworks that integrate agrifood systems. 

Facing unique challenges in their agrifood systems, countries in Europe and Central Asia can leverage the FAST Partnership's platform for dialogue, capacity building, and knowledge sharing. This collaborative approach empowers them to secure enhanced access to climate finance, enabling them to address their specific priorities. Adequate investment across the region is essential to transform these systems into more efficient, resilient, and sustainable models. 

The FAST Partnership Members met on the sidelines of the Climate Change Conference in Bonn in the run-up to the COP29. Through negotiations in Bonn, countries aim to reach an agreement on a new climate finance goal. The partnership will facilitate access to high-quality investments for countries to implement these goals.