30 April 2018
SDG Knowledge Weekly: Adaptation, Agriculture and Food
Photo by Arturo Rivera
story highlights

FAO and UNDP released a set of briefing notes on the integration of agriculture into countries’ National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).

The European Academies Science Advisory Council published a report on food security, nutrition and agriculture in Europe.

A report on behalf of Champions 12.3 analyzes the profitability of reducing food waste.

This week’s brief looks at the role of climate adaptation in agriculture and related impacts on food security and nutrition. Among other partnerships and stakeholder initiatives on this topic, we highlight efforts toward a zero hunger future, and the business case for reducing food waste.

At the sixth session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES-6) held in Medellin, Colombia, from 17-24 March 2018, five new countries joined the Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators: Colombia, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Republic of Ireland. For many geographies and products, food security relies on wild pollinator species, underscoring the connections between biodiversity and attainment of SDGs in other areas. A report by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI) flags the increasing “pollination deficit,” and looks at how to ensure resilient agricultural supply chains against the context of vulnerable and declining pollinator species.

Also linking agriculture with other SDGs, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN released a set of four briefing notes on achieving countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement on climate change in tandem with progress on SDGs 2 and 13 (zero hunger and climate action, respectively). The studies are a product of the joint Integrating Agriculture in National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) Programme (NAP-Ag), conducted in collaboration with UN Development Programme (UNDP) with support from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).

The first briefing note offers an overview of rigorous impact evaluation methods to ensure that sufficient evidence is collected on adaptation interventions’ effects. Impact evaluation is defined as “a special study that utilizes a counterfactual to attribute observed outcomes to the intervention as well as estimate the impact of a project.” The note titled, ‘Using impact evaluation to improve policymaking for climate change adaptation in the agriculture sectors,’ highlights that experimental and quasi-experimental methods, although reliant on the availability and expertise of technical staff such as economists and statisticians, are a preferred means of measuring impacts, and should be embedded early in projects’ design.

The second briefing note identifies and explores four entry points for gender in NAP formulation, building on suggestions made by the UNFCCC’s Least Developed Countries (LDC) Expert Group. The note titled, ‘Promoting gender-responsive adaptation in the agriculture sectors: Entry points within National Adaptation Plans,’ emphasizes that climate change does not impact everyone equally, that adaptation responses in the agricultural sector are shaped by both formal and informal institutions, and that a gender perspective can avoid reinforcing or exacerbating existing inequalities. The note uses examples from Uganda and Uruguay, each of which are also featured as country case studies in other publications we review below.

FAO and UNDP’s third briefing note introduces an approach for assessing “institutional capacity” to plan climate adaptation measures in agriculture. This approach, the note explains, enables the identification of country strengths and needs, and can improve coordination between ministries, as well as cross-sector collaboration across stakeholder groups. The note titled, ‘Institutional capacity assessment approach for national adaptation planning in the agriculture sectors,’ reviews technical capacity in five key areas: 1) climate information and risks assessment; 2) long-term vision and mandate; 3) planning and implementation; 4) coordination and partnering; and 5) monitoring and evaluation. The assessments are intended to be a participatory process that builds country ownership, rather than a prescriptive exercise conducted solely by external actors.

Cost-benefit analyses must go through the difficult process of monetizing that which holds intrinsic value.

The final briefing note reviews, ‘Cost-benefit analysis for climate change adaptation policies and investments in the agriculture sectors.’ It notes that cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is one of the methodologies that can be used to rank or prioritize projects, and outlines the standard steps of a CBA geared specifically towards agriculture adaptation. Somewhat similar to impact evaluation, a CBA compares societal benefits and costs from a project to a business-as-usual scenario under which that project has not been implemented. However, it should be noted that CBAs face challenges in two areas: 1) they discount future costs and benefits, thus placing higher weight on short-term gains; and 2) they are required to go through the difficult process of monetizing that which holds intrinsic value.

The briefs build on a set of three country case studies released by the NAP-Ag Programme last year, which review actions and initial lessons since the Programme’s 2016 launch. Those studies highlighted: Uganda’s inclusion of gender in its NAP for the agricultural sector; Kenya’s legal and institutional framework for climate change and adaptation, and early lessons learned on identifying needs and working with multiple stakeholders and governance levels; and Uruguay’s experiences in safeguarding livelihoods and promoting resilience.

Relatedly, NAP Expo 2018 was held from 4-6 April 2018, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. IISD’s Elena Kosolapova reviews the event here. Additional information on adaptation is regularly published on the SDG Knowledge Hub, and can be found under the tag Adaptation and Loss and Damage Update.

Looking more specifically at the food and agricultural sectors, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and EU jointly released a Partnership Report reviewing collaboration between the two entities. The report reviews financial assistance to end hunger in developing countries, and highlights five steps that WFP is taking towards a zero hunger world. It notes that conflict continues to be the main driver of food insecurity, impacting 74 million people across 18 countries, but also flags that low crop yields due to severe dry spells have impeded progress on eliminating hunger, particularly in Africa.

The European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) released a report finding that overconsumption of calorie-dense foods is leading to a public health crisis in Europe. Titled, ‘Opportunities and challenges for research on food and nutrition security and agriculture in Europe,’ the paper acknowledges a need to shift diets, as well as challenges around spillover effects from European consumption. Recommendations are categorized into buckets on: science-policy interface; nutrition, food choices and food safety; plants and animals in agriculture; environmental sustainability; waste; trade; and innovation trends. A press release is available here, and additional content is available on the report’s landing page.

A report on behalf of Champions 12.3, authored by experts from World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), looks at the business case for reducing food loss and waste in the hotel industry. The report analyzes data from 42 hotel sites in Europe, North America, and the Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions. It finds that on average, the benefits of reducing food waste outweigh the costs by 6.8 to 1 over a three-year time frame, regardless of a hotel’s market segment or geographic location, but flags high variance across sites. A detailed write-up of the study is available on the SDG Knowledge Hub.

Additional issues of the SDG Knowledge Weekly can be found here.

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