Necessary: ​​a climate-friendly food system that can feed 10 trillion trillions – World



  • Agriculture, forestry and land use are responsible for about a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.

  • Global food systems will need to become much more productive by 2050 to feed a global population of 10 billion people while reducing emissions and protecting the environment.

  • Through the Climate Change Action Plan, the World Bank will step up its support for policies and technological innovations that promote climate-smart agriculture.

On the steep hills of Karongi, Rwanda, farmers remember poor harvests and starving people. Today, fruits and vegetables grow on the terraced and irrigated hills in Karongi and elsewhere in the country. In the decades following the Rwandan genocide, efforts to revive agriculture have borne fruit in Rwanda. Controlling erosion, restoring degraded landscapes, diversifying crops, irrigating hilly lands and training farmers in new techniques have boosted horticulture and high-value trade, improved incomes and diets and helped make Rwanda one of the fastest growing countries in the world before COVID. -19 pandemic.

But like the rest of the world, Rwanda is facing the growing impacts of climate change: landslides and droughts caused by heavy and erratic rainfall have taken their toll.

Climate change is increasingly visible on all continents. In the future, declining agricultural productivity will be a key factor in people’s decisions to migrate within their own countries, according to new World Bank study Bottom wave report, which estimates that 216 million people in six regions of the world could become internal climate migrants by 2050.

Impact of agriculture

Agriculture, forestry and land use account for about a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change. The most significant agricultural emissions come from land conversion, such as clearing forests for farms; methane from livestock and rice production; and nitrous oxide from the use of synthetic fertilizers.

Agriculture is also the largest consumer of land and water, with impacts on forests, grasslands, wetlands and biodiversity. Food and land use systems generate environmental, health and poverty costs estimated at nearly $ 12 trillion per year.

Agriculture and food production are key sources of employment and livelihoods for large numbers of people around the world, yet 3 billion people cannot afford healthy diets, according to recent estimates. Low incomes, high prices, and a system that favors staples like wheat, rice and corn over fruits and vegetables all help keep fresh, nutrient-rich foods out of the reach of many.

Current agricultural policies and public support often compound the problem. When governments prioritize input subsidies or price support over investments in agricultural research or environmental services, the results may be negative: excessive use of fertilizers, excessive pumping of groundwater with cheap or free electricity, inefficient use of undervalued water, or farming systems focused on a single crop.

Challenge ladder

Global food systems will need to become much more productive to feed an estimated global population of nearly 10 billion by 2050 while reducing emissions and protecting the environment. Studies estimate the cost of transforming food systems to be around $ 300-350 billion per year over the next 10 years.

“The magnitude of this challenge exceeds the capacity of any institution”, noted Martien van Nieuwkoop, Global Director of Global Agriculture and Food Practice at the World Bank. “For this reason, collaboration is needed to ensure that the right incentives are in place and that funding is mobilized to make it happen. “

Through the World Bank Group Climate change action plan (2021-2025), the Bank will intensify its support for policies and technological innovations promoting climate smart agriculture – a landscape management approach that increases productivity, builds resilience and reduces emissions by avoiding deforestation and identifying ways to absorb carbon from the atmosphere.

Diversify cultures

In Uzbekistan, for example, the Bank is working with the government to help shift from cotton and wheat to a more agricultural system. diversified and resilient to climatic shocks. Cotton and wheat consumed 72% of arable land and 90% of irrigation water and agricultural public expenditure, but generated only 23% of total agricultural production. A new strategy aims to make better use of land and water – and create jobs – by developing the horticultural sector while reducing state involvement in wheat and cotton. The effort removed production subsidies for low-yielding soils that suffered the most environmental damage and ended child labor and forced labor to harvest cotton. Cotton cultivation increased from 1.3 million hectares in 2016 to 0.9 million hectares in 2020. High-value horticultural exports increased from $ 570 million in 2017 to $ 1.2 billion in 2019. and adaptation, ”said Sergiy Zorya, Chief Agricultural Economist for the Europe and Central Asia Region of the World Bank.

Addressing the imbalance of fertilizers

In Pakistan, the SMART Punjab program aims to empower small farmers to grow crops that are more climate resistant, profitable and nutritious than wheat. The program enabled farmers to purchase improved seeds (oilseeds, cotton, rice) and fertilizers (phosphate and potash) at a lower cost through electronic vouchers that they could redeem with remote banking operators. In doing so, the program corrected an imbalance in the use of fertilizers. About 77% of the fertilizers sold in Punjab are urea, which is produced by energy-intensive methods and has much higher GHG emissions per unit than other available fertilizers. The SMART program subsidizes other fertilizers like phosphates and potash with the aim of increasing their current market share by 22% and 1% currently. “Improving fertilizer management can reduce GHG emissions. It is also likely to have significant advantages in terms of sustainable development, in particular an increase in crop yields and profitability ”, noted Asad Rehman Gilani, Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Government of Punjab, Pakistan.

Reduce food loss and waste

Between 30-40% of all food produced every year is lost or wasted. In developing countries, food is usually lost during harvest or during storage – a problem that could be addressed in developing countries investing in infrastructure, transportation and technology for storage and durable cooling.

In the Philippines, where destructive weather events disproportionately affect the poor, the Rural Development Project in the Philippines built over 1,200 km of farm-to-market roads, and more are underway, as well as other crucial rural infrastructure, such as bridges and communal irrigation systems, and investments along the chains of value, including storage and processing facilities.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kenyan government worked with IFC client Twiga Foods and other companies using mobile digital commerce platforms to involve farmers in the means of transport and storage. The Bank is address policy options and trade-offs involved in addressing food loss and waste and will implement farm-to-table food system diagnostics to identify cost-effective climate mitigation and adaptation priorities along the value chain.

Nature-based solutions and carbon sinks

Nature-based solutions to environmental challenges could provide 37% climate change mitigation necessary to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement. Conserving the large volumes of carbon stored in natural forests, grasslands and wetlands is important for adaptation and mitigation of climate change and is essential for increasing the resilience of ecosystems. Soils are also among the largest carbon stores on the planet and store carbon in soils. Nature-based solutions can also be applied in coastal areas to stabilize shorelines and reduce flooding and erosion, helping to sustain fisheries – a key source of food security and nutrition for an estimated 3.2 billion. of people.

Nature-based solutions can improve ecosystem functions in landscapes affected by agricultural practices and land degradation, improving water availability and quality, the productivity of cropping systems, and the health of livestock. In Colombia, farmers planted 3.1 million trees and adopted silvopastoral techniques combining trees / shrubs and pastures: these techniques increased carbon sequestration and improved the availability and diversity of food sources, which made it possible to improve productivity and resilience.

The Resilient Landscape Integration Project in Turkey will combine nature-based solutions with resilient infrastructure to deal with seasonal flooding, droughts, soil erosion and landslides in the Bolaman and Cekerek river basins – two areas marked by poverty rates high levels and vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The project will restore forest landscapes, train farmers in sustainable agriculture, build infrastructure for irrigation and water supply, and increase livelihood opportunities for poor rural households. The project also aims to help lay the groundwork for a national strategy to build resilience in vulnerable rural areas in support of Turkey’s sustainable recovery from COVID-19 and the green transition.

Delaying the action “is no longer an option”

Delaying action on food systems is “is no longer an option” noted Geeta Sethi, Advisor and Global Head of Food Systems at the World Bank. “Transforming our food systems is imperative to improve the health of people, the health of the planet and the health of our economies. “

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