UN agencies and COP presidencies mobilise for climate action and finance in fragile contexts ahead of COP29

UN agencies and COP presidencies mobilise for climate action and finance in fragile contexts ahead of COP29

Rome: The UN World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the presidencies of COP28 and COP29 have called for an urgent scaling up of climate action and financing for resilient agrifood systems in fragile and conflict-affected settings.

This call was made during a high-level meeting in Rome, on Wednesday, in preparation for COP29. Representatives from the Rome-based UN agencies, COP28 UAE, COP29 Azerbaijan presidencies, government ministers from key fragile regions, donors, international financial institutions, multilateral climate funds, and other key climate, development, humanitarian, and peace partners gathered to outline measures to enhance climate action and financing for adapted agrifood systems in vulnerable countries. Discussions also focused on addressing food insecurity and reducing reliance on emergency food aid through resilience-building activities, such as providing farmers with necessary tools and inputs.

Extreme weather events like droughts, hurricanes, flash floods, desertification, tropical storms, heatwaves, and erratic rainfall continue to drive acute food insecurity and cause severe damage in fragile and conflict-affected areas. Despite this, the most vulnerable communities receive the least resources to protect themselves and avoid livelihood losses. In some cases, individuals in fragile contexts receive 80 times less climate finance than those in non-fragile regions.

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According to the 2024 Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC), climate-related shocks primarily caused acute food insecurity in 18 countries, affecting over 72 million people, most of whom were in fragile, conflict-affected, or post-conflict situations.

Cindy McCain, WFP Executive Director said, “We have the science to predict climate disasters and the solutions to help communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis prepare for them. I recently visited Zambia, where I met farmers who can usually grow enough to feed their families but harvested nothing this year due to a drought worsened by climate change. Climate finance and action are critical for these farmers. We must use the innovative tools at our disposal to predict risks and boost protection before these crises hit.”

Building and financing resilient agrifood systems in fragile and conflict regions is crucial to addressing the interconnected climate and food crises while improving the lives and livelihoods of millions in hard-to-reach areas.

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“Investing in climate-resilient agrifood systems is crucial to tackling climate and food crises. Changing the way we grow and consume food helps mitigate climate impacts, protect biodiversity, prevent land degradation, and ensure food security for all, leaving no one behind. This requires a package of solutions, including early warning systems, restoring ecosystems and soils, integrated water resources management, supporting local climate-resilient seeds and tools, reducing post-harvest losses, investing in infrastructure, and social protection,” said QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General.

“With climate impacts accelerating, we urgently need to invest more in the millions at risk of losing their ability to grow or access enough food,” said Alvaro Lario, IFAD President. “Although these costs are estimated at US$215 billion to US$387 billion per year, rural communities’ best chance of dealing with climate change is to adapt with more sustainable, inclusive, and equitable food systems. This is also true in countries with fragile security situations, where such investments bolster resilience against environmental shocks, strengthen local institutions and governance, promote social cohesion, and create sustainable livelihood opportunities,” the IFAD President added.

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Last year, the COP28 Presidency introduced the landmark Climate Relief, Recovery, and Peace Declaration, recognising disparities in climate finance and action based on fragility and conflict. The declaration included a “package of solutions” with policy reforms and US$1.2 billion in targeted climate finance. The incoming COP29 Presidency has confirmed a focus on peace and achieving food security for all. The midpoint meetings in Rome aimed to follow up on the declaration’s implementation and align work with COP29 priorities before world leaders convene in Baku.

The event’s conclusion session focused on contributions to the COP29 agenda, addressing crucial issues of food security, water scarcity, and safe access to land—critical impediments to ensuring climate-resilient agriculture in fragile settings. The discussion highlighted that factors such as security threats, infrastructure destruction, landmines, and other risks should be considered when designing and implementing projects to boost food security in fragile contexts.

Ambassador Elshad Iskandarov, Senior Adviser of the Azerbaijan COP29 Presidency, emphasised the importance of the event for shaping the upcoming climate summit’s Peace Day deliberations in Baku on the Peace and Climate Nexus. He stressed the need for inclusivity and the involvement of governments, UN agencies, international organisations, academia, and civil society in planning and implementing further steps.

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“As host of COP29, we will maintain political attention and advocate for efforts to increase actions, better match needs with funding and capacity-building opportunities, and apply best practices in high humanitarian needs and climate vulnerability situations. The focus on food security, water scarcity, and safe access to land will serve as entry points for discussions and actions to ensure climate-resilient agriculture in fragile settings,” said Amb. Iskandarov, praising the timely efforts by COP28, WFP, and other partners in organising this discussion.

Abdulla Balalaa, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Energy and Sustainability of the United Arab Emirates, reaffirmed support for advancing this critical agenda: “It is encouraging to see the commitment from governments, climate funds, and stakeholders towards implementing the COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery, and Peace. We welcome the UN Rome-based agencies’ initiative to bring us together on practical outcomes for increasing climate action in agri-food systems, particularly in fragile and vulnerable communities leading up to COP29.” Abdulla Balalaa further said.

”This focus presents a critical opportunity to ensure that the COP process, which recently resulted in the UAE Consensus signed by 198 parties at COP28, delivers for everyone. This historic agreement underscores our collective resolve to address climate challenges and paves the way for transformative actions worldwide,” he added.

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About Mohd Mustaquim

Mohd Mustaquim is the Editor of Agriculture Post. A postgraduate in Mass Communication and Journalism, he has been covering the rural economy and agriculture sector for more than a decade.

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