With land degradation gaining ground and affecting up to 40% of lands on Earth, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) today called for a significant increase in investments to help small-scale farmers protect and restore lands and ecosystems, build their resilience to climate change, and ensure long-term global food security.

Speaking at the fifteenth session of the Conference of the parties (COP 15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Abidjan, IFAD President, Gilbert F. Houngbo, said: “Food value chains need to be urgently put on a sustainable pathway. We need to invest significantly more in ecosystems restoration and help small-scale producers who grow one third of the world’s food adopt the practices that will ensure healthy and productive lands, build resilience to climate change, provide a decent living and safeguard food security for all . ”

He added: “A lack of productive lands can only lead to widespread poverty, hunger, migration and instability.”

Between 20 to 40% of land on earth is degraded, directly affecting nearly half of the world’s population and threatening roughly half of global GDP, amounting to US $ 44 trillion according the UNCCD’s Global Land Outlook. The report points out that poor rural communities, small-scale producers and indigenous peoples in developing countries are disproportionally affected by land degradation and desertification, as they are by climate change.

“Many solutions exist to conserve and restore lands and build farmer’s resilience to climate change. These practices generate multiple wins: better yields and livelihoods for small-scale farmers, biodiversity protection and carbon storage. We need to implement them at scale urgently, ”said Houngbo. “The Great Green Wall is a strong example of how ambitious partnerships and financing can be mobilized to achieve impact at local level.”

Through its programs, IFAD works with small-scale producers to restore and regenerate lands and help them adapt to climate change by promoting many practices based on nature such as agro-forestry, crop diversification and rotation, planting shrubs, promoting indigenous species, using organic compost and simple water harvesting technics such as digging pits and half-moons which conserve soil moisture.

Nations have pledged to restore 1 billion degraded hectares of land by 2030. This will require US $ 1.6 trillion in funding this decade. In addition, annual costs to adapt to climate change in developing countries are expected to rise to between US $ 140 billion and US $ 300 billion by 2030. Finance for adaptation is far from answering the needs and reached US $ 46 billion in 2019/2020. Small-scale farmers received less than 2 per cent of climate finance.

IFAD is determined to increase its commitments to land restoration and building the resilience of small-scale producers. Today, IFAD will announce its support to the Abidjan Legacy Program with a US $ 130 million contribution through ongoing investments and new funding. Promoted by Ivory Coast, host of COP15, the Abidjan Legacy Program is an ambitious multi-partner initiative which aims to ensure the environmental sustainability of food value chains.

IFAD also supports the Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative through its own investments in the 11 Great Green Wall countries amounting to US $ 1.4 billion as well as through multiple regional programs totalling about US $ 480 million in collaboration with partners that include the African Development Bank , Africa Risk Capacity, the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Food and Agriculture Organization, UNCCD and the World Food Program. Furthermore, IFAD will implement the GGW Regional Support Program financed by the GCF, which aims to enhance knowledge management and collective impact of GCF projects across the GGW, and is developing a new complementary program with the GEF focussing on climate adaptation innovations.

IFAD is stepping up its investments to build small-scale farmers 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.

Furthermore, IFAD aims to catalyse climate finance at scale from a broad range of public and private partners, including though its flagship program – the enhanced Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Program (ASAP +), 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.

Since 2000, IFAD has invested more than US $ 4 billion in programs to combat land degradation and desertification, and promote sustainable land management.

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