Opinion: Lessening the blow of climate-related loss and damage

07 August 2019, Rome Italy – FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu official portrait. FAO headquarters.

As the impacts of the climate crisis continue to surpass the limits of adaptation, countries are urgently searching for ways to redress the losses and damages to agriculture. This op-ed discusses ways to limit loss and damage through various means, including increased climate finance and Anticipatory Action.

Growing up on a small rice farm in China in the 1960’s, my family was keenly aware that any single adverse weather event could wipe out a year’s worth of effort. The climate and weather patterns are something a farmer feels in his bones, but changes in these patterns and the extremity of events have, in recent years, shocked rural communities. We never imagined seasons might alter at the pace and scale we see today, bringing losses and damage that undermine years of hard-won rural development.

The changing climate has become a food and agriculture crisis. Small-scale farmers are increasingly at the mercy of climate induced disasters and extreme events. Given the total reliance on weather patterns and natural resources for healthy yields and produce, the agrifood sector is on the frontline of the climate crisis.

Climate change is affecting our capacity to produce food, altering the availability, accessibility, and affordability of food, as well as the quality of water, soil, and biodiversity, increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, and shifting the patterns of pests and diseases. These impacts increase food insecurity, reducing crop yields, livestock productivity, and the potential of fisheries and aquaculture as food producers.

Over the last 30 years an estimated USD 3.8 trillion worth of crops and livestock production has been lost due to climate and other disaster events, corresponding to an average loss of USD 123 billion per year, or 5 percent of annual global agricultural GDP. These disaster events have also been increasing, from around one hundred per year in the 1970’s to a current average of four hundred per year. As agriculture, including crops and livestock production, forestry, fisheries, and aquaculture, is one of the main economic activities in developing countries, the implications are profound.

Farmers are resilient and have for centuries adapted to changes in their environments. They are the best investment in building resilience and adapting to climate change. But what they are experiencing today goes beyond their ability to adapt. Support in dealing with both the economic and non-economic losses and damage caused by extreme and slow onset events is becoming a lifeline for farming communities and countries.

Getting the loss and damage funding up and running and, most important of all, distributing finance for loss and damage will be a litmus test for success at the United Nations COP28 climate summit. Our latest report on Loss and Damage in Agrifood Systems, which will be launched at COP28, reveals that, over a third of countries’ climate commitments or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) explicitly refer to loss and damage. For those countries referring to loss and damage, agriculture is overall found to be the single most impacted sector.

FAO is committed to supporting countries to assess the extent and magnitude of loss and damage caused by the impacts of the climate crisis on the agrifood sectors; mobilizing adequate and predictable financial resources to support the implementation of loss and damage actions in the sector; assessing climate risks; reducing loss and damage in agriculture; and developing new technologies and practices that can reduce the exposure and vulnerability of food producers and consumers to climate risks, such as drought-tolerant crops, water-efficient irrigation systems, early warning systems, crop insurance and social protection schemes.

The climate and food crises are inseparable. Investing in agrifood systems solutions to climate change will bring big rewards for people and for the planet. But not even the most resilient farmers can adapt to all the effects of the climate crisis. Small-scale farmers and agriculture-dependent developing countries must be at the forefront of our collective efforts to address the consequent loss and damage.

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  1. smh
    December 2, 2023

    It’s a chinese person replying. you can tell by the poor english. Well either that or the typical labor party supporter :lol: :lol:

  2. Waiting For Airport
    December 1, 2023

    @Mell Houston, why do you/we have such a beggar mentality ‘who will help us’?

    Do you know the value of coffee/fruit juice – and a whole range of products that we can produce with relative ease? Instead of ‘who will help us’ the question should be why are our leaders so incompetent at monetising our natural resources? Is it incompetence or is it poverty by design?

    Do you realise that marijuana is a multi billion dollar industry? Why then do our leaders continue to keep it illegal when we can produce it with ease? Why are they so desperate to jail growers (while showing a lot less interest in real crimes)? Amsterdam has had a marijuana tourism industry for almost a century, yet they don’t have the capacity we have to produce it. Why have our leaders chosen to cut us out of one of the most lucrative industries in the world?

    Why do we need outsiders to do what we should be able to do for ourselves?

    Ask the right questions!

  3. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    November 30, 2023

    “but who will assist us with the finances required to develop? I know who you thinking, world bank & imf, the key institutions”( Mel Houston).

    Be informed the Chines are not into the business of assisting any country because they are in love, with Dominican’s or any other country’s people. They are in this for one purpose, and that is to rob poor nations blind, they are in it for financial gain, they pretend to loan poor places like Dominica money, at high usury they know Dominica will never be able to repay!
    We saw what they did in Uganda, when they could not payoff a loan when it reached maturity; the Chines took control of Uganda’s International Airport, only then the government found out no other interested bank or lender could have refinance or buy the loan. The Chines purpose in the Caribbean is to have corrupted crooks like Roosevelt, support them when they annex Taiwan.
    We got along before without China; there’s another way, the Chines are thieves and murderers too!

  4. Waiting For Airport
    November 30, 2023

    More Chinese propaganda – Dominica, we have a problem we cannot just ignore. We need to deal with this Chinese invasion so our descendants still have a place in the Nature Isle!

  5. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    November 29, 2023

    Man shut up, who the hell cares where you grew up!
    You grew up on what farm; your yellow crab self grew up in a swamp of water planting and growing rice!
    That is the sort of farm you have in China; hut up!
    Where it pertains climate-related loss, as you are babbling about due to climate change are cause by you dirty, greedy, communists rats who polluted both the sky’s, and the earth which caused climate change!
    Before you all set the world on fire by wantonly, and deliberately unleashing the COVID-19 virus which you created on the entire world, which caused the worlds population to cover our faces with masks: decades prior to that you and your nasty people walked around in China with masks on your yellow crab face to protect you from the pollution, and polluted air you breath in China.
    Only in Dominica, scoundrel, and scum of the earth nobody like you are give media time to talk crap! The majority of us are tired of you chip face in our country! Roosevelt will go with all Chines

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
    • Mel Houston
      November 30, 2023

      I understand you do not favor the Chinese too much, but who will assist us with the finances required to develop? I know who you thinking, world bank & imf, the key institutions Western countries use to keep us under their neo-colonial grip. No they have not worked for us and they will not, it’s not in their strategic best interest. They still see us as cheap labor source and only when needed. It seems with the Chinese what you see is what you get, no conniving like the colonizers we grow used to.

      • cccp
        November 30, 2023

        Are you MAD? You obviously don’t know the cccp’s debt trap policy, and their motivation behind the “belt and road initiative”. There is a certain level of “taking advantage” going on in all business transactions,(just look at loans and payments from local banks), but the deception and end results of the chinese loans and help, is very sinister. Before you defend, please study and research.

        • Mel Houston
          December 1, 2023

          Then per your argument, you’d prefer to taken down by IMF and World bank in the usual way. Well, we’re up against a rock and a hardened place.
          Non of these western countries have done any better after o over 400years of doing the same colonial sh*t which is why we are here, except our gov’t of the day is in possession of billion$. shhh… You are right, I don’t get it. :-x

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