Today the world is not ready to face the effects of climate change. Adaptation is largely underfunded. The needs of developing countries are 10 to 18 times greater than international public funding. If it is urgent to reduce our emissions, it is just as urgent to adapt to save lives and offer a viable future to the next generations.
Small-scale agricultural producers in developing countries produce a third of the world’s food and up to 70% of the food in Africa and Asia. They are essential to global food security. However, they are on the front line of climate change.
Should we recall the floods in Pakistan in 2022 which plunged a third of the country under water while more than 60% of the population lives from agriculture, or the historic drought in the Horn of Africa, which experienced five consecutive seasons of insufficient rain? Should we mention the millions of small producers who see seasons and rain patterns becoming unpredictable and affecting their harvests and income?
Agricultural yields could fall by a quarter by the end of the century. For small producers who often already live in great poverty, it is a work stoppage and a death sentence. Around 3 billion people live in rural areas of developing countries and depend in part on small-scale agriculture for their livelihoods and supplies. Small-scale agriculture is a major sector of the economy of many poorer countries. According to the Climate Policy Initiative analysis center, these small producers essential to food security receive only 0.8% of global climate finance, or $5.53 billion in 2019-2020. This is largely insufficient given the needs: less than two dollars per inhabitant of these rural areas.
However, solutions exist to help small producers adapt, such as small-scale irrigation, agroecology, agroforestry, better soil management, the cultivation of local varieties better adapted to lack of water such as millet or sorghum, or early warning systems to announce major climatic events.
It is not the lack of know-how or technology that is blocking us, but mainly the lack of financing. Inaction will have catastrophic effects around the world. Failed harvests will worsen hunger and poverty, leading to conflict, migration and instability.
To move away from this dead end, world leaders must make several commitments. The first is increased funding. Developed countries must honor commitments to provide $100 billion a year to developing countries and double funding for adaptation. The second is to thoroughly review the international financial architecture so that developing countries have access to the financing – donations but also loans at extremely concessional rates (on preferential conditions) – which they need to develop and act for the climate. Third, the private sector must play its role. State plans to reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change must be much more than intentions but translate into investment plans, which can attract the private sector in collaboration with the public sector, which could take certain risks to their account.