Talking about Resilience and Sustainability in Agrifood Systems with the IDB’s Board of Executive Directors

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Joaquín Lozano, CGIAR’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean at IDB’s headquarters in Washington D.C. ©CGIAR

By Joaquín Lozano, CGIAR’s LAC Regional Director

On September 29th, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group held a Knowledge Workshop on Climate Methodologies with its Board of Executive Directors at the bank’s headquarters in Washington D.C. I was honored to be one of the two keynote speakers, along with Jo Puri, Associate Vice-President of the Strategy and Knowledge Department of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The purpose of the workshop was to reflect on the use of climate finance and Paris Agreement alignment methodologies as part of IDB Group’s broader strategy to enable low carbon and climate resilient development models in Latin America and the Caribbean.

My presentation aimed to outline what the region needs in order to achieve globally competitive, sustainable food systems, and how Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) can contribute to this objective.

LAC hosts a very significant  amount of natural resources (the world’s largest reserve of arable soil, 30% of the world’s renewable water, 23% of the total global forest coverage, 46% of the tropical forests and 30% of the world’s biodiversity, to name but a few).

Despite this richness, the future looks far from bright.

According to CGIAR’s data, by 2050, 31% of LAC agricultural land will be less climatically suitable and, if current trends continue, there will be a 25% and 5% reduction in corn and wheat yields, respectively.

These facts will represent a problem for the region’s food security and for global food security, considering that we live in a planet that will need to increase food production by 50%-70% before 2050 to feed an ever-growing population, and in which LAC accounts for 14% of global food exports.

The solution to this conundrum is not easy, but it’s clear that there is a need for science-based interventions and policy reforms that analyze mitigation, adaptation and productivity for a more effective impact; intervene in strategic crop production chains; identify priority areas for investment in sustainable and resilient livestock systems; find alternatives to major emissions sources; and scale up silvopastoral production without deforestation.

To this end, capacity-building in national agricultural research and innovation systems and synergies with global systems are essential.

CGIAR’s LAC Regional Office, with the centers based in the Americas, has been defending this position for quite some time now: a regional research and innovation agenda is needed to maximize the region’s huge contribution to global food security and biodiversity preservation.

MDBs are called to play a key role in the construction and implementation of such an agenda. They can make critical contributions to mobilizing resources and providing support to governments, the private sector, consumers and investors towards Paris Agreement alignment and compliance with the Nationally Determined Contributions by:

  • Contributing with and mobilizing financial resources towards fulfilling the Paris Agreement.
  • Becoming a reference for standards.
  • Having a regional scope that facilitates addressing cross-border challenges such as climate change.
  • Supporting governments to establish appropriate incentives in line with the Paris Agreement.
  • Provide resources to support eco-friendly business models, among others.

We are just at the beginning of the discussion, but we have to pick up the pace. It is becoming clearer every day that climate change is not a threat, but an actual reality.

In this context, I would like to sincerely thank the IDB for this opportunity to talk about such key themes before its Board and a group of the bank´s experts from the Climate Change and Sustainable Development Sector, as well as from IDB Invest’s advisory services, led by Juan Pablo Bonilla and Milagros Rivas, respectively.

Not only for what it could mean to me personally, as a former IDB colleague, but also -and mainly- because the invitation was more proof of the importance that the largest MDB in the Americas gives to the challenge of creating socially, economically and environmentally sustainable food systems in the context of the climate crisis.

CGIAR, as the world´s largest agrifood research network, is here to collaborate in this quest.

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