ROME - Agrifood systems and the communities that support and depend on them are on the front lines of loss and damage linked to climate change, a new report released on Friday by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has revealed.

The current climate crisis is affecting the world’s capacity to produce sufficient food. Its multiple impacts on water, soil, biodiversity, as well as the frequency of extreme weather events are leading to increased food insecurity.

These effects diminish crop yields, livestock productivity, and the potential of fisheries and aquaculture as food producers, according to the report.

Against the backdrop of these findings, the FAO Director-General underscored that nations must ensure that the loss and damage fund, ‘historically’ set in motion on the first day of the UN Climate Change conference in Dubai, UAE, reaches the agricultural communities dealing on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

He was speaking at the COP28 Presidency’s first Leader’s Event focused specifically on food and agriculture held on Friday at Expo City, venue of the conference in Dubai.

More support needed

The report says it is critical to address loss and damage in the agrifood system, given its importance for livelihoods and sustainable development.

However, despite an increase in global climate finance flows, support for agrifood systems lags behind other sectors, constituting less than 20 percent of climate-related development finance in 2021.

The Director-General highlighted that the solutions to help countries build resilience, adaptation, mitigation, and achieve food security already exist.

“But we need enabling policies to close the investment gap to ensure that climate finance is increased and reaches those who need it most, especially smallholder farmers,” he said.

“We have to produce more with less. Agrifood systems must be transformed to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient, and more sustainable to effectively contribute to food availability, accessibility, and affordability, and to achieve all the SDGs,” Qu underscored.

A new declaration

Qu also expressed FAO’s support for the newly launched Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action, endorsed by 134 countries.

The Emirates Declaration, officially launched during the World Climate Action Summit event, emphasizes the key role of agriculture and food systems in addressing climate change.

“New FAO 1.5 °C Roadmap and Emirates declaration will play a key role in promoting climate action and achieving all of the sustainable development goals,” he told Heads of State and Government gathered at the summit.

The said roadmap will be presented later at COP28 which captures contributions that nations can make to building climate resilience, curbing greenhouse gas emissions, and boosting food security.