COVID-19 and green recovery
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to profound economic, social, and environmental impacts on a global scale. Global containment measures to reduce the spread of the pandemic have caused a global economic downturn and exposed agri-food system vulnerabilities and weak points, highlighting the need for a deep systemic shift towards greater resilience. Even before the pandemic, the need for transforming the agri-food system was clear. Food systems contribute significantly to extensive ecosystem degradation, biodiversity loss, and land use changes that enable the spread of zoonotic diseases and are responsible for 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change.
The socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic are disproportionately affecting agriculture-dependent communities in developing countries. The demand shock and supply chain disruptions associated with COVID-19 are greatly affecting men and women smallholder farmers, rural populations, migrant workers, and indigenous peoples who depend on agricultural production, fishing, pastoralism, or forestry for their food security, nutrition, income, and livelihoods. These communities also face increasing vulnerability to future climate change impacts which are expected to be more protracted and severe than those of the current pandemic, as detailed in the new IPCC report. Thus, the adaptive capacities and resilience of countries and communities at risk need to be strengthened to ensure they are able to withstand future systemic shocks.
In this context, green recovery measures appear as a timely opportunity to introduce innovative economic, political, environmental, and social solutions designed to benefit both people and the planet. The wider aim of such measures would be to address systemic risks and vulnerabilities in the agri-food system and build greater resilience of the system to climate change and even future pandemics.
To strengthen countries’ road to Green Recovery, the SCALA team sees NAPs and NDCs as useful tools which point to existing mechanisms for delivering support to communities vulnerable to both climate change and the effects of the pandemic. SCALA’s COVID-19 response strategy aligns with the UNDP and FAO organizational COVID-19 perspectives and strategies and is complementary to their broader initiatives. SCALA’s programmatic approach to catalyse transformative change is to deliver three inter-related outcomes.
Outcome 1: Documenting best practices on transformative solutions to address both climate change and COVID-19 impacts and promote dialogue by establishing mechanisms for learning and knowledge-sharing between SCALA partner countries.
Outcome 2: Reviewing countries’ responses to COVID-19, to harmonise and align them with NDC and/or NAP and other climate related commitments.
Outcome 3: Designing blueprints for win-win private sector business models that promote greener value chains and facilitate green investments in the land use and agriculture sector.