Sustainable Development Goals Helpdesk

FAO at the Tenth Session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development: Climate action

24/04/2024 , Addis Ababa

FAO, represented by Ms Natalia Galat, Office of Sustainable Development Goals, delivered an official FAO statement at the Tenth Session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development discussion on "Climate Action".

The impacts of climate change are having disproportionally large impacts on the rural poor, female headed households and women farm managers, and older cohorts. Achievement of SDG 13 is linked to addressing the intersecting challenges, especially those that are affecting the most vulnerable groups. 

Among the groups that are often overlooked and whose role is not acknowledged enough for achieving SDG 13 are the Indigenous Peoples. They are key allies in biodiversity preservation. However, these groups are highly vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change impacts on agriculture and food security.

Gender inequalities exacerbate vulnerability to climate shocks and natural disasters, disproportionately impacting women. Women experience higher levels of food insecurity and endure job losses and asset depletion faster than men during climate shocks such as heat stress. 

Furthermore, women engaged in agricultural production tend to do so under highly unfavorable conditions. They tend to be concentrated in the poorest countries, where alternative livelihoods are not available, they usually have less access to land and credit and they maintain the intensity of their work in conditions of climate-induced weather shocks and in conflict situations.

The latest FAO publication “The Unjust Climate” demonstrates that female headed households stand to lose 8 percent more of their annual income due to extreme heat than male headed households; and poor households lose 5 percent more income than non-poor households from flooding. These trends increase the dependence of vulnerable people on agricultural incomes, which are highly subject to changing climate conditions. 

Countries are required to be able to implement climate change adaptation policies, plans and actions, to contribute to the transformation of agrifood systems to make them more resilient to the current and future impacts of climate change and ensure food security and nutrition. This entails implementing inclusive and gender-sensitive strategies, including group-based approaches and social protection programs, to empower marginalized communities and enhance resilience to climate impacts.

Additionally, closing data gaps and promoting the collection of sex-disaggregated data are essential for designing effective and tailored policies and interventions. By prioritizing climate action and building resilience in agrifood systems, we can work towards a more sustainable and equitable future for all in the Africa.

Given the disproportionate impact of climate change on the rural poor, small-scale producers, women and older cohorts, agrifood systems must transform to be resilient and responsive to climate challenges, incorporating practices that have been shown to provide multiple benefits, are environmentally sustainable, maintain genetic diversity and are socially just. Integrated land and water management, as well as the conservation and sustainable use and management of biodiversity are essential to support climate action and food security. Additionally, the sector must reduce its fossil fuel dependency and find alternative, cleaner, renewable alternatives.  It is also necessary to engage with actors on the food-water-energy nexus to maximise synergies on food security and energy production.