The United Nations Food And Organization (FAO) Investment Centre Director, Mohamed Manssouri, has disclosed that agriculture is both a cause and a victim of climate change and must be part of the climate solution.
According to estimates, Agrifood system emissions account for 21 percent to 37 percent of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. At the same time, climate change adversely affects agrifood system actors in different ways, from smallholder farmers to large food manufacturers.
Rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, and supply chain disruptions already impact food production, undermining global efforts to end hunger. As a result, the number of people facing hunger could reach one billion by 2050.
These vulnerabilities are a stark reminder of the need to transform these systems, says FAO Investment Centre Director Mohamed Manssouri. “We need to double down and mobilize greater investment, knowledge, and innovations to make our agrifood systems greener, more resilient, more productive, and more efficient at providing healthy and nutritious diets, good jobs, and biodiversity,” he said.
“Agriculture is both a cause and a victim of climate change, and it must be part of the climate solution. There is the potential to engage food and land-use systems to reduce emissions and act as a carbon sink.”Mohamed Manssouri
Pathways for decarbonizing agrifood systems
A new report from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) provides a comprehensive look at decarbonizing agrifood systems, which is necessary and achievable.
The report, Investing in carbon neutrality: utopia or the new green wave? Challenges and opportunities for agrifood systems draw on insights from a wide range of stakeholders and set out five action areas to move the decarbonization agenda forward.
The report argues that the private sector has much to gain by decarbonizing agrifood systems – including reducing costs, mitigating risks, protecting brand value, ensuring long-term supply chain viability, and gaining competitive advantages.
It also notes that some companies have committed to ambitious emissions reduction targets. But efforts have been uneven. For one, achieving carbon neutrality is still voluntary. Also, it can be significantly more expensive for a smaller company to become carbon neutral than for a larger one. And it can vary from sector to sector.
The report identifies five action areas that show what different stakeholders – policymakers, agribusinesses, farmers, and international organizations – can do to accelerate the transition to greener agrifood systems: strategically target carbon neutrality, improve and standardize tools and methods, promote sound governance mechanisms, directly support companies and farmers to decarbonize and educate and communicate on carbon neutrality.
Carbon neutrality: Utopia or the new green wave?
Adding to the discussion, Gianpiero Nacci, EBRD’s Director, Climate Strategy and Delivery, said decarbonizing the agrifood sector is possible and not some utopian ideal or box-ticking exercise.
“There are low-carbon pathways, as highlighted in the report, but they call for strong political and corporate commitment, concerted action, including sound policies and good governance, and dedicated investment and human resources to see results.”Gianpiero Nacci