The declaration on sustainable agriculture, resilient food systems, and climate action at the just concluded United Nations (UN) Climate Meeting, COP28, offers a global agreement that seeks to address food insecurity. The commitment stated in the declaration is to transform food systems, which includes setting targets for food and land use in nationally determined contributions and national adaptation plans.
Though India has not signed the declaration citing its priorities around food security, the Government of India added that it is making all efforts to make the agriculture sector climate resilient.
India’s experiences and learning around creating resilient and sustainable agriculture geared towards vulnerable communities and small farmers to strengthen livelihoods, nutrition and food security resonate with several aspects of the declaration.
Investing Closer To The Ground And In Communities
My thoughts went to the women’s self-help groups in Odisha’s Ganjam district, over three thousand kilometres from Dubai, where high-level discussions were taking place on the lived and forecasted impacts of climate change.
Training using solar devices that help in processing vegetables that can be preserved through solar drying and sold when the supply is limited, and demand is high, these women are part of an award-winning initiative called Solar For Resilience. I witnessed how women farmers can transform into entrepreneurs and leverage opportunities that low-cost tech and financing provide. The initiative will not only increase income but with the use of renewable energy, reduce food losses, and overall contribute to a more sustainable food system.
Eight hundred and ninety million dollars have been committed to CGIAR by national governments, the Gates Foundation, and the World Bank. This publicly funded network will research technologies and techniques to help smallholder farmers build resilient and sustainable food systems, including new crop varieties and land management techniques. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, $350 billion in annual investment will be needed by 2030 to transform food systems that align with nature, development, and climate goals.
This is a welcome move, and while the small farmer-focused food system transformation is critical, it is equally important to empower women’s leadership in terms of access to technology – contextual and scalable – and finance.
Focusing On Front-Line Communities
Disasters will increase to 560 annually, meaning around 1.5 disasters per day. Climate change is causing hunger and malnutrition to grow by 20%, while food productivity is estimated to decline by 21%. To address this, the World Food Programme advocates for strengthened support to communities in food-insecure settings.
To prevent and address the loss and damage from climate change, the WFP recommends strengthening and scaling up early warning and climate information systems, ecosystem- and infrastructure-based solutions, climate risk insurance, shock-responsive social protection, crop and livestock diversification, and emergency preparedness and response.
To prioritise climate action in the most at-risk contexts of food insecurity, including in fragile and conflict-affected settings, more funding should be directed towards strengthening local systems and capacities with anticipatory actions, climate risk insurance, resilience programs, and leveraging national social protection systems.
Scaling climate action through food systems transformation de-risks food systems with dedicated investments in climate prediction and protection. This can be achieved by prioritising agroecological and regenerative farming practices, scaling up climate-friendly school meals through local procurement and sustainable energy solutions for resilient food supply chains, and supporting farmers with climate-smart agricultural practices and climate-resilient, indigenous, and nutritious crops.
A coalition of 200 farmers’ groups, frontline communities, businesses, philanthropic organisations, and cities signed the Non-State Actors Call to Action for Transforming Food Systems for People, Nature, and Climate. This is intended to complement the Emirates Declaration, supporting its implementation and reinforcing the role of governments in transforming food systems. The signatories, including C40 Cities, the World Farmers’ Organisation, Nestlé, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Bezos Earth Fund, also committed to supporting frontline food system actors and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples when making food system investments.
Collaboration And Partnerships
WFP and the Government of Odisha partner to empower women through livelihood support and promoting climate-resilient agriculture, including millet. The partnership links two critical aspects: equal access, particularly around livelihoods for girls and women to address hunger and achieve nutritional security, and the adoption of millets to support climate-resilient food production and nutritional security, especially among vulnerable communities.
WFP has also been collaborating with the Odisha Government to capture lessons from the Odisha Millets Mission, the flagship programme for promoting millets in tribal areas of Odisha, which is aimed at reviving millets on farms and plates.
WFP and Odisha have also been collaborating by deploying the “Secure Fishing” app, a tool for coastal fishing communities to improve their safety, resilience, and daily catch. The app also helps government officials track activities in the fishery sector. The app uses a combination of written, video, and audio messages in the local language to provide information in a format the community can understand. It also provides access to tailored climate and ocean state information services.
Finally, we must ensure that food systems are linked with social protection systems, particularly during converging crises. This means that stakeholders within the food production chain, including smallholder farmers, have uninterrupted access to healthy and nutritious diets and can sustain local food production for local people.
(This article has been authored by Elisabeth Faure, Representative and Country Director, WFP in India.)
Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of author.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which in its Season 10 is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Ayushmann Khurrana. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In a world post COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental well-being, self-care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.