Plan aims to help accelerate climate action across all FAO areas of work


FAO’s climate strategy envisages agrifood systems as sustainable, inclusive, resilient and adaptive to climate change. (Photo: FAO)

ROME — The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has launched an Action Plan designed to support the implementation of its ambitious Strategy on Climate Change 2022-2031.

The Strategy, which was endorsed in June 2022 by FAO’s executive body, the Council, envisages agrifood systems as sustainable, inclusive, resilient and adaptive to climate change.

Global agrifood systems, which encompass the production of food and non-food agricultural products, as well as their storage, transportation, processing, distribution, marketing, disposal and consumption, are currently responsible for about a third of total greenhouse gas emissions. They are also one of the major victims of the climate crisis. But agrifood systems also offer many solutions for confronting the climate crisis, from building resilience and adaptation to mitigation and sequestration.

The Strategy aims to scale up the visibility, uptake and investment in these solution by contributing to adaptive, resilient low-emission economies “while providing sufficient, safe and nutritious foods for healthy diets, as well as other agricultural products and services, for present and future generations, leaving no one behind.

Crucially, it recognizes that the time to act is now.

To guarantee the successful and timely implementation of the Strategy, FAO has developed an Action Plan based on discussions with its FAO Members, so as to ensure that it reflects their needs and priorities as closely as possible.

“FAO’s Strategy on Climate Change is our response to the worldwide challenge of tackling the impacts of the climate crisis, while aiming to address a broad range of interlinked challenges, including biodiversity loss, desertification, land and environmental degradation, the need for accessible, affordable renewable energy, and food and water security,” said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu. “This Action Plan will help implement agrifood system solutions to climate change from across all FAO areas of work, ensuring we are working as one FAO.”

Three pillars

The Action Plan is based on three pillars: 1) advocacy at global and regional levels;  2) policy support at country level;  3) the scaling-up of climate action on the ground with local actors and vulnerable populations.

As far as the first pillar is concerned, FAO is already stepping up its advocacy efforts in global fora. For example, FAO was recognized as a strategic partner of the COP27 Presidency, supported the agricultural track of the climate negotiations and hosted a Food and Agriculture pavilion for the first time at the Climate Change Conference held in Sharm el-Sheikh in November 2022. This momentum and collaboration is set to continue with the Presidency of the United Arab Emirates.

In terms of policy support to FAO Members, the Plan aims to intensify support in the elaboration and implementation of climate commitments, in particular the National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), and nationally determined contributions (NDCs). FAO is active in this area with its Scaling up Climate Ambition on Land Use and Agriculture through nationally determined contributions and National Adaptation Plans (SCALA) programme, which is currently active in 12 countries spread across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

For instance, in Nepal, a country with limited institutional capacity for addressing issues associated with climate change, the SCALA Programme is bringing added value and technical expertise in achieving the country’s goals for more resilient agriculture systems and sustainable agriculture and land use practices.

The third pillar seeks to bring about a stronger involvement by local stakeholders, with a particular focus on vulnerable groups, such as women and Indigenous People, towards the identification, co-development, and adoption of good practices that will ensure a greater food security, better livelihoods, as well as address climate change, biodiversity loss, and land degradation.

One example of where FAO is working on this is through its Strengthening Agricultural Adaptation (SAGA) projects, which aims to reinforce adaptation planning for food security and nutrition in two Francophone countries particularly vulnerable to climate change: Haiti and Senegal.

The Plan associates a series of concrete outputs to all the outcomes and pillars that were endorsed in the Strategy and covers the period 2022-2025, allowing for a mid-term review of its implementation.