The State of Food and Agriculture 2016: climate change, agriculture and food security

The State of Food and Agriculture 2016: climate change, agriculture and food security

In adopting the goals of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the international communit y took responsibility for building a sustainable future. But meeting the goals of eradicating hunger and poverty by 2030, while addressing the threat of climate change, will require a profound transformation of food and agriculture systems worldwide.

The effects of climate change on agricultural production and livelihoods are expected to intensify over time, and to vary across countries and regions. Beyond 2030, the negative impacts of climate change on the productivity of crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry will become increasingly severe in all regions.

Policymakers must recognize the need to manage trade-offs, and set out concrete measures for better aligning multiple objectives and incentive structures. For example, the gender equity trade-offs of planned actions need to be systematically analysed – a shift to more resilient intercropping systems has sometimes cost women their control over specific crops. One area with a large potential for policy realignment is the redesign of agricultural support measures in a way that facilitates, rather than impedes, the transition to sustainable agriculture. In 2015, developed and major developing ountries spent more than US$560 billion on agricultural production support, including subsidies on inputs and direct payments to farmers. Some measures, such as input subsidies, may induce inefficient use of agrochemicals and increase the emissions intensity of production. Making support conditional upon the adoption of practices that lower emissions and conserve natural resources is one way of aligning agricultural development and climate goals.

Policies on nutrition, food consumption, food price support, natural resources management, infrastructure development, energy and so on, may similarly need to be re-set. To address trade-offs, the process must ensure greater inclusiveness and transparency in decision-making, as well as incentives that provide long-term public and collective benefits.

More climate finance needs to flow to agriculture to fund the investment cost associated with the required large-scale transformation of its sectors and the development of climate-smart food production systems.

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