Agriculture and food systems are one of the main perpetrators of climate change contributing between a quarter and a third
of global greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon emissions from large-scale deforestation, methane emissions from rice and animal farming and nitrogen emissions from fertilizer use are among the main sources. Most commercial agricultural production also relies on fossil fuel for its energy.
At the same time, those who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods in developing countries are the primary victims of climate change and suffer from the highest levels of food insecurity globally. From the drought in the Horn of Africa, to the flooding in Pakistan, climate change is now one of the primary drivers of hunger, which has been rising for six years in a row. Clearly, the relationship between agriculture, food security, and climate change are closely intertwined.
Research finds that more than 80% of aid to agriculture and food security screened had no climate mitigation objective, and over 60% had no climate adaptation objective. In addition,
more than 43% of the foreign aid grants to agriculture and food security did not have environment objective, 77% did not have a biodiversity objective, and 85% did not have a desertification objective.
Examining the data for ODA from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation's Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) database, accompanied by interviews with donors, reveals three problems in how donors are linking aid to agriculture and food security with climate action.
There is an inconsistent use of the climate change markers by donor representatives who are inputting the data into the OECD-DAC.
The design of the climate markers, with a strong environmental framework, means that many agricultural projects that do have a climate link do not align with the requirements of the marker.
The lack of consensus of a definition for quantifying aid to agriculture and food security means the total amount of aid for agriculture and food security is contested and the full extent of the links across sectors remains unknown.
The case for the Agriculture and Food Security Aid Tracker
The close link between agriculture, food security, and climate change requires donors to have a tool to track, monitor, and analyse how their aid is designed, where is it going, and what impact it is having. To progress towards a more coherent framework, the FAO and the Shamba Centre for Food & Climate, as part of the Hesat2030 project, are building a platform for donors to better understand and assess their contribution to multiple sustainable development outcomes, particularly SDG 2.
The new Agriculture and Food Security Aid Tracker will provide donors with greater transparency on how they are recording ODA to agriculture and food security, and whether it is linked to climate action. Through artificial intelligence tools, such as text mining, it will help donors identify the aid that offers the strong linkages with climate change but is missing due to inconsistent use of the climate markers or poor coding. The new tracker will also examine the extent to which aid is aligned with scientific evidence on the most effective ways to achieve SDG 2.
The full article by David Labord, Carin Smaller, Mali Eber-Rose and Elise Olivetti is available on the Shamba Centre website.