November 15, 2022
Investments in climate-smart agriculture innovations can increase smallholder farmers' resilience, say agriculture leaders at COP27
Accelerated investments in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation, spearheaded through the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) initiative will benefit smallholder farmers in developing countries in becoming more resilient against climate change, according to a group of high-level global leaders speaking at an event which is a part of the COP27 conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
The event was co-hosted by Farm Journal Foundation and CGIAR.
AIM for Climate is a global initiative launched last November at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) by the United Arab Emirates and the United States. Supported by 42 government partners and 235 non-governmental partners such as international organisations, nonprofits and private-sector companies, AIM for Climate has announced an increased investment of more than US$8 billion, up from US$4 billion at COP26, by partners in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation and a tripling of innovation sprints and partners since its launch.
The panel at COP27 featured high-level AIM for Climate partners, including its senior leadership: US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Samantha Power, interim director of agricultural development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Enock Chikava and deputy director of the UN Food & Agriculture Organization Helena MQ Semedo.
"A coordinated global response is the most logical answer to our current challenges, and this is where all the partnerships come into play," Vilsack said. "AIM for Climate is a unique and inclusive platform convening 42 government and over 235 non-government partners to advance innovation in climate-smart agriculture and food systems globally, and this will empower us to learn, adapt and support best practices to empower smallholder farmers around the world, especially from marginalised communities. Equity and inclusion are critical to the success of AIM for Climate, and we will seek to create a dialogue and draw on diverse knowledge, experiences and cultures so no one is left behind, be it a nation, community, or individual."
"Climate change is rapidly upending the landscape for smallholder agriculture, negatively affecting crops as well as livestock," Almheiri said. "With over a quarter of the world’s population employed in agriculture and women making up 50% of agricultural workers in developing countries, it is imperative to protect farmers' livelihoods and the ecosystems they rely on while feeding a hungry world. We must focus on interventions that create better economic opportunities for resource-limited and marginalised people in rural communities, particularly women and youth."
The event announced new AIM for Climate "Innovation Sprints", while dignitaries spotlighted the progress made against previously announced projects. Innovation Sprints are initiatives led and funded by partners to achieve a specific outcome or output in agricultural innovation. There are now 30 Innovation Sprints in total, aligning with one or more focal areas: small-holder farmers in low- and middle-income countries, emerging technologies, agroecological research and methane reduction.
Claudia Sadoff, executive managing director of CGIAR, the world's largest global agricultural innovation network, shared details on the "Digital resources for scaling up climate-informed agroecological transitions" Innovation Sprint, which works on the Agroecological TRANSITIONS’ Inclusive Digital Tools project (ATDT). It aims to leverage US$25 million to develop digital solutions for smallholder farmers to scale up agroecological practices. The programme will expand access of low-cost digital technical advisories and performance assessment tools to 100,000 farmers in ten countries and five value chains in Asia, Africa and Latin America. This will enable farmer co-creation and rapid development of site-appropriate climate change resilience and mitigation measures based on agroecological principles.
"We risk losing more lives, deepening poverty and entrenching inequalities if the global community does not take action to set targets and invest in adaptation to make communities and farmers more resilient to climate change," Sadoff said. "The level of ambition and commitment from AIM for Climate partners is an important and welcome step-up to accelerate climate adaptation for those that need it the most."
During the event, Justina Nixon-Saintil, IBM’s vice president of corporate social responsibility and ESG, provided a progress summary and initial results of the first cohort of its IBM Sustainability Accelerator focused on sustainable agriculture.
An AIM for Climate Innovation Sprint, the accelerator is a pro bono social impact programme that applies IBM technologies, such as hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence, and an ecosystem of experts to enhance and scale nonprofit and government interventions to help populations that are vulnerable to climate change and other environmental threats.
IBM will provide the first cohort of participating organisations with technology and expertise to accelerate climate-smart agriculture solutions. Through 2025, Accelerator projects will receive an estimated market value of US$30 million in IBM support including US$10 million focused on sustainable agriculture.
"It’s clear that there's a need for more technical and institutional support for economically under-prioritised populations when it comes to bolstering our resilience in responding to climate change," Nixon-Saintil said. "IBM is working to provide this support to local and regional organisations across the globe through the IBM Sustainability Accelerator. The model that IBM is developing helps invest in equitable and long-term solutions to environmental injustice, including solutions for smallholder farmers, which is one of our priorities for the programme."
Georgina Campbell Flatter, the executive director of TomorrowNow.org, announced "Climate Resilience For African Farmers Through Next Generation Weather Intelligence" - a new innovation sprint undertaken by her organisation, a nonprofit that aims to "close the global weather gap", and advance early warning systems in the developing world.
TomorrowNow.org, Tomorrow.io and its partners are pioneering the Africa-first innovation spirit to empower 20 million smallholder farmers by 2025 with next-generation location-based timely agri-weather services. Together, they are building on established activities in Kenya to leverage US$80 million in private sector investment and US$20 million in transformative philanthropy to connect governments and local agricultural value chain partners with next-gen weather intelligence and lay the foundations for rapid scale and sustainability. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a key partner of the innovation sprint, which works with the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO).
"We must act now to ensure those most in need and at risk of weather variability are able to adapt and thrive in our changing climate," Flatter said. "Our innovation sprint brings together phenomenal partners from across the public, private and NGO sectors. By working better together, we are able to make a difference now while also ensuring sustainability for tomorrow."
"It's exciting to see African organizations like KALRO embrace advances in digital technologies and data analytics to reveal new pathways for agriculture adaptation," said Enock Chikava of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "This project will deliver tangible, detailed insights that will help farmers anticipate and respond to new or intensified threats caused by climate change."
- Farm Journal Foundation