Food security and climate change



According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the impact of climate change is reducing crop yields (particularly cereals) in certain regions of the world and is disrupting water resources. In the Sahel, for example, forward analyses show that without appropriate adaptation measures, by 2050 cereal production will drop by between 20% and 50% due to climate change, potentially associated with food shortages. These trends should be confirmed in the years ahead. By affecting harvests, climate change could also increase the price volatility of agricultural products and make foods less nutritious and healthy.
Developing countries are well aware of these forecasts, which is why under the Paris Agreement’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), every African country identified the agriculture sector as a priority in their climate change adaptation strategy. Some 58% of countries have set a specific target for the agriculture sector in their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets (mitigation).

In the face of climate change, agriculture can be a driver for solutions by promoting techniques which generate co-benefits in terms of adaptation, mitigation and increased food production, e.g. by promoting approaches such as agro-ecology. A new paradigm shift towards more sustainable and productive agricultural and food systems is necessary. This is all the more important because farmers who adapt their crop systems to climate change are generally less vulnerable to food insecurity and poverty (FAO, 2015).

One of the challenges for farmers will be to reduce the quantity of natural resources used in their sector without compromising yields and while reducing the quantities of inputs in order to sustainably preserve these resources.

[(What exactly is agro-ecology?

Agroecology is a means of designing production systems drawing on functionalities provided by ecosystems. It expands the functionalities while seeking to reduce environmental pressures (e.g. reducing greenhouse gas emissions, minimizing the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, etc.) and to preserve natural resources (water, energy, minerals). The aim is to use nature as best as possible as a production factor by maintaining its renewal capabilities. It requires the use of a series of techniques which view farming as a whole. In this systemic approach, the technical and economic results must be maintained or improved, while improving environmental performance.

The agriculture, forestry and pastoral sectors currently help to effectively reduce the impact of climate change, and could play an even greater role in the future. The main levers for mitigating these sectors are carbon capture (in soils and biomass products) and energy substitution (wood-energy).

The three Rio conventions, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are essential frameworks for action in the area of climate change. These conventions address three interlinked international environmental issues: the impacts of climate change, the fight against land degradation and the loss of biodiversity.

France’s action

France supports implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Support for the agriculture sector in national contributions in the Paris Agreement is one of the guiding principles of our action. The AFD has set up the Adapt’Action Facility, which has a budget of €30 million to be allocated across 15 countries, to support them in their resilient, low-carbon development paths, particularly in the agriculture sector.

France supports regional and national agro-ecology projects, building on the support from the AFD for the agro-ecological transition in West Africa (€8 million).

This support for an agro-ecological transition is achieved by supporting technical, organizational and institutional aspects. The issue of training for farmers, particularly young farmers, but also for trainers themselves, is essential. Like those of the International Agricultural and Rural Training Network (FAR), the AFD finances training programmes for senior managers, including training modules on agro-ecology.

Then, sustainable farming systems for dry regions, including pastoral farming, must be consolidated. Spatial and social organization of herd movements must be facilitated through investments (e.g. wells, markers). Transhumance corridors can be set up in order to preserve livestock farming areas. France supports the Regional Sahel Pastoralism Support Project (PRAPS) which aims to strengthen the productivity, sustainability and resilience of pastoralists’ livelihoods.

Finally, France is advocating within international forums for agriculture to be recognized as a major sector which provides solutions as regards adaptation and resilience to climate change as well as mitigation (for example, the “4 per 1000 Initiative”: soils for food security and climate).

Updated: June 2018