COP28: FAO Director-General highlights the role of finance and science in agrifood systems for transformation and prosperity in Africa

Dubai – To help Africa cope with the impacts of the climate crisis, it is crucial to put agriculture and food centre-stage in climate action and channel more investment towards science-based solutions, technology, capacity building and youth, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) QU Dongyu said today at a high-level side-event held on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28).

The event entitled “Launch of the High-level Panel Investment Action Plan and Financing Dialogue” focused on identifying key finance, policy, innovation, and knowledge interventions that would enhance climate resilience and adaptation on the continent.

Participants included: Hage Geingob, President of Namibia; Macky Sall, President of Senegal; Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of Botswana; William Ruto, President of Kenya; Prince Haime de Bourbon de Parme; Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy, and Sustainable Environment of the African Union Commission; and Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

In his opening remarks, the FAO Director-General highlighted Africa’s immense potential for transformation and prosperity, praising the continent’s key assets including abundant natural resources, biodiversity, knowledge and youth.

However, he pointed out that to seize these multiple opportunities, we need to boost investment primarily in agricultural infrastructure, such as irrigation systems and cold chain-storage as well as soil mapping.

“In Africa you need a better life, you need better food, you need better environment, you need green cities. That is also an opportunity,” he said, pointing to the importance of investments in advancing free trade and economic growth, food safety, capacity building, technology, research and development.

Although Africa contributes less than 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, it faces the worst consequences of the climate crisis, hitting its agrifood systems and those depending on them the hardest. Agrifood systems provide 62 percent of Africa’s livelihoods, yet African countries acutely experience loss and damage from climate change in agriculture sectors.

Agrifood systems receive only a fraction of climate finance and that share continues to decrease: in 2021 only 20 percent of climate finance was allocated to agrifood systems – 12 percent less than the previous year.

Qu also emphasized the key role of science and innovation to underpin informed decision-making while noting that innovation should be made available for everyone, particularly youth. It is crucial to bring broadband to rural areas, he added.

FAO’s efforts on climate action in Africa

The Director-General reiterated FAO’s commitment to work closely with African countries through the Organization’s initiatives, programmes and international fora. 

For example, the third edition of the World Food Forum held at FAO headquarters in October this year, included African scientists, youth, farmers, producers, and government representatives, showcasing multiple research projects, start-ups, digital technologies, and artificial intelligence for agrifood climate action stemming from Africa. It brought together over 6500 delegates in person and around 60000 people followed the discussions online.

Through its flagship Hand-in-Hand Initiative, FAO fosters partnerships between countries and investors. The initiative creates win-win opportunities leveraging geospatial data between the most vulnerable countries and donors for the most impactful investment plans for agrifood system transformation.

Sixty-seven countries are already part of the initiative with over half of them in Africa. To date, the Hand-in-Hand Initiative has developed investment plans worth $4.7 billion and has raised over $1 billion in investments to deliver multiple SDGs.

In addition, FAO is helping countries access climate financing for integrated agrifood system solutions. To this end, FAO has so far unlocked $2.2 billion globally with the Global Environment Facility and the Green Climate Fund and has facilitated access for African countries totaling $527 million and leveraged $3 billion in co-financing.

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Source : Fao