Investing In Development Programs Means Investing In Our Future

As host of this year’s G7 summit, Germany can set an example. Ban Ki-moon
  Author: Ban Ki-moon May 19, 2022

The world is stuck in a tangle of alarming, severe crises that demand urgent action. The worsening climate crisis is impacting every aspect of our lives. It is further increasing the threat of violent conflicts, health issues, and food insecurity. More than ever, we need developed countries like Germany to uphold and increase their development assistance budgets and lead as an example.

In Yemen, the war has been raging for almost eight years; Syria’s crisis grinds on into its eleventh year. Over two million people have been forcibly displaced by the ongoing fighting in the Tigray region of Ethiopia due to brutal violence against civilians. While Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis plummets to extreme levels of deprivation, Myanmar’s military factions expand the scale of conflict, increasingly involving civilians. Most recently, Russia’s unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine forced more than five million people to flee the country while almost eight million are internally displaced.

These complex emergencies are set against a backdrop of transnational, planetary challenges like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has cost the lives of more than 6 million people worldwide. All of these extremities have consequences far beyond their immediate impacts, most particularly in the realm of food production.

 

There is a need for investments in climate-resilient agriculture

Agriculture, in particular, is both foundational to human wellbeing and also highly vulnerable during crises. In recent months, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has shown the devastating impact conflict can have on our ability to cultivate and transport food, with looming surges in hunger anticipated worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic has similarly sent shockwaves throughout local food systems, causing the highest levels of hunger seen in modern history. The reduction in yields, the increase in pest infestations, and unpredictable weather patterns have made the impact of climate change more evident than ever. The severity of these disruptions often stems from a lack of investment in the people who produce food and the inevitable precarity they experience on a day-to-day basis.

Two thirds of adults living in poverty work in the agricultural sector, meaning the very people who provide us with nutrition often struggle to get it themselves. Without drastic climate action, these inequities will only increase. Global demand for food is predicted to increase by 50% by 2050, while agricultural yields will likely decrease by up to 30% over the same period due to worsening environmental conditions.

Investing in climate resilient agriculture is essential to improving the lives of 500 million small-holder farmers around the world and bolster local, resilient food systems. Currently, smallholders receive only 1.7% of total climate finance. World leaders need to keep their promise to deliver $100 billion Dollars to climate finance and significantly step up their commitments towards agricultural adaptation to build the resilience of smallholder farmers. In this regard, global champions like CGIAR need to receive more funding for the acceleration of adaptation in agriculture, to ensure food security, increase resilience and protect biodiversity. The right investments in innovation, research and development will lead to food production increases, rather than decreases in the decades ahead.

Just as we cannot prioritize our obligation to meet the human rights needs of one crisis over another, underfunding critical development programs will severely hamstring our ability to prepare for and prevent the crises of tomorrow. That is why global leadership, bold action, and strategic programming are needed now more than ever.

This means identifying and resourcing the communities that exist at the intersections of extreme poverty.

 

Germany has a special responsibility to step up

In recent years, Germany has taken on a leading role in the global fight against hunger. The government has substantially invested in global food security and rural development and when it comes to the overall provision of official development assistance, Germany ranks second. The leadership the government has shown in recent years when it comes to global development cooperation could not come at a more crucial time. Looking at the multiple crises the world currently faces, funding for development cooperation and strengthening of multilateral institutions will be crucial to be able to respond to the medium and long-term consequences and to prevent future crises.

The German government must therefore consistently continue its commitment to strong development cooperation. Especially in a year in which Germany holds the G7 Presidency, the government’s actions and decisions will have wide repercussions at the international level. With a clear commitment to strengthening development cooperation, the German government can send a strong signal of support for the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the most marginalized people worldwide. To get the world back on track at the G7 Summit at the end of June, it is important that Germany continues to take on a leading role in international development cooperation.

The last time Germany held the G7 Presidency, back in 2015, G7 countries made a commitment to lift 500 million people out of hunger and to increase funding accordingly. This commitment still remains to be followed-up upon. The war in Ukraine, the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the increasing droughts and floods we witness across Africa and Asia have only amplified the urgency. It is the drastic consequences of conflict and climate change that put the livelihoods of millions of people at risk. What is needed by the G7 countries is to take urgent climate actions and to step up their ambition with regards to international climate finance, especially targeting agricultural adaptation measures.

If we don’t respond adequately and equitably now, the world will see a worsened situation for every crisis to follow — from access, availability and affordability of food, fuel prices, climate shocks and exposure to extreme weather events, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the ongoing displacement of people.

In this extraordinary time of need, citizens must urge their government to step up and do all that they can to provide support. That will mean donors raising development budgets to cover rising costs. This year, Germany can be in the driving seat for international solidarity and cooperation.

BKMC teams up with Global Citizen to Promote Climate-Resilient Agriculture

Climate change is already transforming humanity’s relationship with nature, and nowhere is this shift more apparent than in the field of agriculture. Farmers worldwide are contending with rising temperatures, proliferating pests, and increasing droughts and floods that require new approaches to crops that have been grown for generations.

It’s a dynamic that leaves farmers exposed to financial ruin and diminishing yields, a prospect that threatens global food security at a time when the global population and its demand for calories continues to grow.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further impacted farmers, often cutting them off from laborers, markets, and government assistance. Building back better” from the pandemic requires bold climate action that prioritizes smallholder farmers who are struggling to overcome structural and environmental forces outside of their control. That’s why the BKMC is entering a two-year partnership with Global Citizen — to advocate for climate-resilient agriculture by championing smallholder farmers especially in Africa and calling on world leaders to strengthen global food security and increase development aid to agricultural adaptation.

“2021 is the year we recover back better and call for increased political commitments,” said Ban Ki-moon, founder of the organization and 8th secretary-general of the United Nations.

“Partnering with Global Citizen on adaptation, the Ban Ki-moon Centre will join the collective effort to address climate change, focusing on building the climate resilience of smallholder farmers around the world.”

 

The partnership will involve behind-the-scenes advocacy and public awareness efforts that work hand-in-hand. By identifying governments that have shown broad sympathy for the cause of climate adaptation, the partnership will seek to increase development aid for agricultural adaptation in low-income countries.

 In support of these outreach efforts, Global Citizen and the BKMC will also seek to improve understanding of the challenges facing smallholder farmers, the complex dynamics of climate change, and how demand-driven research, such as those championed by CGIAR, accelerates climate adaptation on the ground.

In particular, the Program will bring forward the stories of smallholder farmers and how they’re confronting the climate crisis, incorporating agricultural adaptation tools and techniques, and building a better future.

While countries have shifted toward a form of industrial agriculture in recent decades that features massive plots of land and heavy use of chemicals, there are still roughly 570 million smallholder farms worldwide that manage land less than two acres in size. These farms support communities through food production, jobs, and the maintenance of traditional practices. But climate change primarily threatens smallholder farmers who do not always have the resources to adapt to emerging disruptions. Farmers often have to sell or leave their land when faced with rising temperatures, droughts, and other environmental changes. The absorption of small farms into industrial farms, meanwhile, often further contributes to the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Today you can start by taking our joint short quiz powered by Global Citizen to understand why the situation facing farmers is so urgent. 

The partnership will highlight the lived experiences of female farmers on the front lines of food production; break down how adequately funded research can transform agriculture; explore how young people are reshaping agriculture and unlocking new opportunities; explain how agricultural adaptation practices can actually mitigate climate change, and look at how farming communities can improve rural development more broadly.

Through written content, video, and social media, the partners will put a light on the people who are crucial to the future survival of humanity: farmers.

Whether or not countries can navigate the disruptions of the worsening climate crisis depends in part on how well smallholder farmers can adapt. Farmers require stable weather conditions and steady supplies of water, both of which are becoming increasingly precarious as temperatures rise. Looked at another way, focusing on the plight of farmers can foster society-wide climate resilience. If the people who tilled the land were prioritized in global decision-making processes, then fossil fuels would be phased out more rapidly and inequality eradicated sooner. After all, fewer greenhouse emissions mean less climate change and more favorable conditions for growing food.

CEO Froehler Moderates Food Systems Panel at VEF

On November 4, 2020, Ban Ki-moon Centre CEO Monika Froehler moderated a breakout session during the “Priorities at the Farm Level” session of the Vienna Energy Forum “Food Systems Track” online series. This year the sessions serve as a platform to discuss pathways to better align the energy transition with the food systems transformation, focusing on opportunities in developing countries.

The “Enablers for Progress” discussion welcomed: Fiona Hoffman-Harland – Shell Foundation, Manssor Ahmad – Agribusiness Impact Investment of The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of UK, Camile Andre Bataille – ANKA Madagascar, Joseph Kienzle – FAO, and Lowell Randel – Global Cold Chain Alliance. 

The session (starting at 1:47:10) focused on the enablers for food systems transitions, especially for enabling opportunities when considering #farm-level priorities. The panelists discussed what is needed as a helping hand for smallholder farmers and how to effectively involve women and youth in food system processes. 

Joseph Kienzle – FAO, emphasized: “We need transportation, access to modern technology, and capacity building incentive packages. We need to make the private sector understand what smallholder farmers need.”

 

On how to integrate and reach women and youth on these opportunities, Lowell Randel – Global Cold Chain Alliance recommended that “We really have to pay close attention and provide them with training on, farm and the value of the cold chain. It is educating the youth and women that is critical to keep the cold chain and extend product life”.

Fiona Hoffman-Harland – Shell Foundation called for a need to focus on the entrepreneurial side of women, reasoning that “We must address social barriers and not just provide women tailored products. Women spend more money on their families than their businesses. Both men and women struggle with time poverty. But women struggle more than men with subsidized time, child-care, which go hand in hand with social norms.”

Credit: https://twitter.com/ForumVienna/status/1325786918026682368
Credit: https://twitter.com/ForumVienna/status/1325786918026682368
 

To conclude the session CEO Monika Froehler put together a list of recommendations to provide opportunities for smallholder farmers, she continued: “The full chain value approach needs to be taken into consideration. The three-legged-stool is key; we need training, technology, and finance.”