Food Coalition

Transforming agri-food systems using climate-smart approaches to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic

The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is impacting people all over the world, including smallholder farmers whose production, food security, nutrition and livelihoods are under threat. Smallholder farmers who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods are among the most vulnerable not only to the ongoing threat of climate change but also to the severe health and socio-economic consequences of the pandemic. Furthermore, as natural resource managers, they are key actors in a One Health approach.

In our efforts to bolster food systems amid the economic revival from the effects of COVID-19, we should emphasize environmental sustainability and efforts to combat and adapt to climate change as well as build and strengthen resilient domestic and international markets. To achieve these goals, we should take transformative action throughout our food systems. Agricultural development should pursue sustainable increases in productivity adaptation, and mitigation action for climate change, and we must shape our actions based on best practices, for example related to sustainable soil management, water management, livestock management, agroforestry, conservation agriculture, aquaculture, and energy management. Such a holistic approach adapted to local needs and territories can facilitate a transition to agri-food systems that are more productive, sustainable and climate resilient and thus in line with recovery actions needed after the pandemic. In this way, we could preserve and protect the environment and biodiversity to maintain a natural buffer against diseases, while promoting decent livelihoods for farmers and contributing to economic revival.

This initiative proposes coordinated actions by farmers, researchers, private sector, civil society and policymakers towards climate-smart pathways through a holistic approach based on five implementation actions: (1) expand the evidence base; (2) support enabling policy frameworks; (3) strengthen national and local institutions; (4) enhance funding and financing; and (5) implement climate-smart practices in the field (FAO, 2017). This approach differs from ‘business-as-usual’ approaches by emphasizing the capacity to implement flexible, context-specific solutions, supported by innovative policies and financing. Importantly, sustainability is an integral part of this effort particularly related to production activities. This is fundamental in enhancing food systems’ resilience to future crises.

We should rethink our food systems, strengthen domestic food supply chains, and connect farmers to local and international markets, while recalling the importance of producing and sourcing raw materials locally. The necessity of ensuring sufficient local food supply and decent incomes for farmers have become evident during the pandemic, given mobility restrictions imposed by governments.

Crucially, to help national agriculture sectors build back from the COVID-19 pandemic, the project strengthens countries’ capacities to ensure that farmers are connected to markets and that populations have sufficient and stable access to healthy diets. This entails supporting governments to work with private sector companies to shorten supply chains to reduce farmers’ vulnerabilities and strengthening local agri-food systems to increase availability of – and access to healthy local food.

Priority Areas of work: Food Systems Transformation
SDG: 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth, 10. Reduced Inequality, 13. Climate Action
Level: Global
Budget: USD 10 million

Action Sheet:

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