UN calls for more climate finance to support small-scale farmers

Boosting investments to help small-scale farmers adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis is more urgent than ever, warned the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) at the United Nations Conference Stockholm+50.

Small-scale farmers produce one-third of the world’s food, but receive only 1.7 per cent of climate finance. “If we leave small-scale farmers out of the climate finance efforts, we are simply pulling the trigger for food shortages, food insecurity, mass migration, social unrest and conflict,” said Jyostna Puri, Associate Vice-President of IFAD and a global climate leader, at a side event of the conference that commemorates the historic 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.



“We need to ensure that small scale farmers, who are at the core of our food systems, can adapt to climate change and continue to produce our food tomorrow. We know which adaptation techniques work, particularly those based on nature. We need to bring them to scale and do it quickly,” added Puri.

Small-scale farmers, as well as indigenous peoples, can be efficient stewards of biodiversity and ecosystems. They can also significantly contribute to climate mitigation efforts by protecting soils and biodiversity and helping to store carbon.

However, they often lack the financial resources and capacities to adapt to, or recover from, environmental changes and natural disasters increasingly triggered by climate change.

Nature-based solutions such as agroecology, agroforestry, or ecological management in fisheries, which are at the core of IFAD’s climate adaptation work, are effective means to improve food security and livelihoods. They also generate income, while protecting biodiversity, and human and ecosystem health.

These solutions bring along notable social benefits, such as improving land access to marginalized groups or fostering women’s empowerment by harnessing their unique knowledge.



Crisis mode for the rural world
Approximately 3.3 to 3.6 billion people live in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); most of them live in rural areas. In low-income countries, rural communities are often the hardest hit by extreme weather events because they are the least able to cope with and recover from climate change shocks.

The latest IPCC reports have urged all stakeholders to act before it is too late, as the window of opportunity to secure a sustainable future for rural populations is fast closing.

Scientific evidence has proved that investments in climate adaptation reduce risks to people and nature, saving lives and protecting and improving livelihoods. These investments have become more urgent than previously thought, according to the IPCC.

However, climate adaptation finance continues to lag despite a 53 per cent increase in 2019-2020. During this period, for every US$12 spent on mitigation, only US$1 was spent on adaption work.

Climate adaptation at the core of IFAD’s work
IFAD is stepping up its investments globally to build small-scale farmers’ long-term resilience to climate change by dedicating 40 per cent of its core resources to climate action over the next three years, up from 35 per cent (equivalent to US$1.2 billion) over the previous three-year period.

Through its flagship programme – the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) – a multimillion-dollar climate adaptation fund for small-scale farmers established in 2012, IFAD has pioneered approaches to tackle integrated issues of climate change, environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition, reaching six million vulnerable producers in 41 countries.



The ASAP programme has produced valuable evidence of impact, providing significant opportunities for scaling-up. Several countries have already scaled-up innovations promoted by ASAP, including technologies, natural resource management techniques as well as approaches to incorporating smallholder farmers in climate adaption planning.

IFAD aims to further catalyse climate finance at scale from a broad range of public and private partners, including though the enhanced Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP+), launched in 2020, which aims to mobilize US$500 million – while expanding partnerships with the three main climate funds: the Adaptation Fund, the Global Environment Facility, and the Green Climate Fund.