Warning that insufficient investment in climate adaptation can hamper food security, President Irfaan Ali today challenged the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) to establish a special Adaptation Fund for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Low-Lying Coastal States as he addressed world leaders virtually during the opening ceremony of the 2022 World Food Forum in Rome.
Mr. Ali told the high-level forum that Small Island Developing and Low-Lying Coastal States need climate adaptation financing on soft terms, at concessionary interest rates, long-term repayment plan, and even more grants in light of the peculiar challenges they face.
“It is my hope therefore, that the FAO can conceptualised and facilitate the establishment of a special adaptation fund for SIDS and Low-Lying Coastal States disbursed on the basis of vulnerability index, rather than on traditional measures relating to Gross Domestic Product. I have also called for a climate vulnerability fund. These will help unlock much needed and specially tailored resources for SIDS and Low-lying Coastal States to help boost their food security,” President Ali told the global leaders.
He explained that SIDS and Low-Lying Coastal States face a plethora of challenges due to their limited access to larger markets, susceptibility to external shocks and market vulnerabilities, narrow revenue base, fragile eco-system and vulnerability to climate risk.
Zooming in on climate related risks, the President pointed out that SIDS and Low-Lying Coastal States are at risk of flooding, drought, erosion, natural disasters such as land slides and hurricanes, and the intrusion of salt water into farm lands. Extreme weather events, he said, disrupt food systems, and cause destruction to crops and agricultural infrastructure.
Against that background, he said investment in climate adaptation is necessary to foster a climate resilient agricultural sector.
“Without climate adaptation, the Agriculture Sector’s of SIDS and Low-Lying Coastal States will be continuously prone to climate risks. At COP26, certain pledges were made to boost adaptation financing but I have alluded to elsewhere, the level of financing promised by the developed countries will be inadequate to close the adaptation gap; and without climate financing, the Agriculture Sector’s of SIDS and Low-Lying Coastal States will be challenged to attract investment for production and productivity,” the President said.
According to the President, climate financing must be increased by at least 590%.
He explained that Adaptation Finance remains far below the scale necessary to respond to existing and future climate change. It was further pointed out that the Public Sector continues to provide almost all adaptation financing. President Ali noted that in Latin America and the Caribbean Region, Adaptation Finance totalled US$4.6B in 2019-2020 of which US$300M was from domestic sources.
It was also noted that in 2019 and 2020, debt dominated the climate finance landscape with 61% of the funds acquired through debt.
“Given the scale of climate financing needs and current trends, it is anticipated that the large scale transfers to match those needs will continue to be raised through debt, rather than through grants. For SIDS, and particularly for CARICOM, the trend is of particular concern given the worsening debt situation that many face, and that has been compounded as a result of COVID-19, global inflation, rising fuel prices, and the current Russian-Ukraine War that is crowding out climate finance related issues,” he reasoned.
The President said investment is critical to the transformation of food systems, and is required at all stages from adaptation to research to cultivation right up to marketing, distribution and trade.
“Investment can help SIDS to reduce their vulnerabilities and to diversify production. It is needed to expand and modernise agriculture, and foster climate smart innovation and climate resilient agriculture. Investment is needed to transition production higher up the value chain through food processing. Investment is needed in developing human resources, particularly in making agricultural more attractive to join people but foremost. SIDS and Low-lying Coastal States require substantial injection of resources for climate adaptation,” President Ali further explained.
The World Food Forum is being attended by world leaders, youth groups, scientists, private companies, Indigenous Peoples, farmers, agri-investors and small-scale producers from around the world. It is intended to move the needle for food security to achieve a better food future for all, leaving no one-behind.