Centro de inversiones de la FAO

The stakes have never been higher: IPCC releases latest report


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group II report on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability was approved today in a virtual session.

Following two weeks of intense negotiations between governments and the authors of the IPCC Working Group II’s Sixth Assessment Report, the final consensus has resulted in a report that presents a dire outlook on climate change impacts and vulnerability. Since the last assessment in 2014, the steady increase in the number of undernourished people in the world has been attributed to countries affected by conflict, economic downturns and climate extremes.

This report is the second of three contributions to the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report and the first since November's COP26 summit. It focuses heavily on cities and coastal communities and contains seven regional chapters highlighting the people and places most vulnerable to the effects of global warming. It documents how physical changes in the climate, heatwaves, drought, floods, storms, wildfires and ocean acidification are affecting people and ecosystems. With a strong evidence base, this report highlights that without bold and immediate global action the climate crisis will only get worse:

  • Globally, population change in low-lying cities and settlements will lead to approximately a billion people projected to be at risk from coastal-specific climate hazards in the mid-term under all scenarios, including in Small Islands.
  • Although overall agricultural productivity has increased, climate change has slowed this growth over the past 50 years globally.
  • While agricultural development contributes to food security, unsustainable agricultural expansion, driven in part by unbalanced diets, increases ecosystem and human vulnerability and leads to competition for land and/or water resources.
  • Loss of ecosystems and their services has cascading and long-term impacts on people globally, especially for Indigenous Peoples and local communities who are directly dependent on ecosystems, to meet basic needs.

The report is all about solutions, a call to address issues that underpin discussions around securing climate finance, adaptation, loss and damage, equity and climate justice. Issues that FAO is working to resolve, and that are likely to frame the narrative at the Conference of Parties COP 27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt later this year.

“As we approach COP27, this latest IPCC report is timely, now is the moment to act by implementing innovative solutions to tackle the climate crisis”

said Zitouni Ould-Dada, Deputy Director of the FAO Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment and Focal Point for the IPCC.                                                             

“The report is a reminder that tackling climate change is not just about reducing emission but about adapting to its impacts and building resilience especially in vulnerable sectors like agriculture”, he added.   

What are the solutions? 

Agriculture is part of the climate solution and with the world population expected to reach 9.9 billion by 2050, FAO has significantly increased the scale and scope of its work.

“Agrifood systems need to become greener and more climate resilient so that people have access to affordable and healthy diets that are also sustainable, now and in the future”, said Eduardo Mansur, Director of the FAO Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment.

The report looks at the impacts on people and nature, the risks and the limitations they face in adapting to climate change and the continuing trends in biodiversity loss and the overconsumption of natural resources.  FAO supports countries in the design and achievement of their climate commitments, National Adaptation Plans and mitigation actions, promoting Climate-Smart Agriculture and access to modern and clean forms of energy, often within broader frameworks and decisions.

FAO has also established a range of programmes to support countries in sustainably using and conserving biodiversity, from Agricultural Heritage to Sustainable Wildlife Management and an intergovernmental body that works with countries to reach consensus on policies for the conservation of genetic resources for food and agriculture.  

The report highlights that tackling climate change is not just about cutting emissions to avoid climate extremes ten years down the line, but about dealing with more short-term threats. FAO’s Green Cities Initiative is working to do just that implementing innovative “quick win” solutions in cities as entry points for further action.

Rapid action also means avoiding risk. Agriculture is the sector most affected by weather-related shocks and FAO is working to reduce uncertainty by improving the information base, and devising innovative schemes to insure against climate change hazards. 

Social justice is clearly referenced in the new report and indigenous and traditional knowledge has an important role to play in this. A recent FAO/FILAC report revealed that in Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia, titled indigenous territories avoided between 42.8 and 59.7 million metric tons (MtC) of CO2 emissions each year; the equivalent of taking between 9 and 12.6 million vehicles out of circulation.

Every little counts

FAO’s ‘Strengthening Agricultural Adaptation’ (SAGA) project recognizes the importance of building on traditional and scientific knowledge and the key role of rural women and youth in climate change adaptation planning in Haiti and Senegal. For example, through the CasaMiel initiative, the project has led to increased honey production in Senegal while gathering valuable community-driven knowledge on honey production in the face of climate change.

The FAO/UNDP Scaling up Climate Ambition on Land Use and Agriculture through Nationally Determined Contributions and National Adaptation Plan (SCALA) programme is currently supporting twelve countries to develop capacity to accelerate the implementation of plans to meet the targets of their national climate commitments.

“The needs of each country are complex. In order to advance climate action at full speed, science-based information from the IPCC, regular assessment and evaluation, the “unpacking” of detailed steps, and the involvement of key stakeholder groups including the private sector are fundamental” said Julia Wolf, the FAO SCALA Programme Coordinator.

“In Cambodia for example there’s a strong emphasis on reducing methane emissions and climate-smart agriculture aligned with the country’s National Green Growth Policy whereas in Costa Rica the focus is more on low-carbon agrifood value chains.”

In its role as a delivery partner for the Green Climate Fund, FAO also works on the front line of the climate crisis, with Small Island Developing States, empowering people and communities and building national know-how for strengthened and coordinated climate action. In Saint Lucia women and men in the fishery sector are being trained to protect the mangrove and seagrass ecosystems that are vital fish nurseries and breeding habitats, as well as buffers against extreme weather events.

This latest IPCC report is an urgent reminder to governments and policy makers that if immediate action is taken to cut greenhouse gases and funding is mobilised to ensure effective adaptation globally, we may be able to avert worst case climate change scenarios.

The IPCC carries out these large-scale reviews of the latest research on warming every six or seven years on behalf of governments. In April 2022, Working Group III’s report on mitigation, will provide an updated assessment of climate change mitigation, and greenhouse gas emissions reduction and removal.


Download the IPCC Working Group II report, summaries and chapters here.

Photo credit © Giada Connestari/FOOD4 La Stamp