Transforming food, land, and water systems for resilience through innovative multi-level governance and local climate action

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By Giriraj Amarnath and Ana Maria Loboguerrero Rodriguez, CGIAR Research Initiative on Climate Resilience (ClimBeR)

With COP28 now upon us, it is more important than ever that we raise the call for climate action, especially for those most vulnerable to weather extremes. While many parts of the world are feeling the ever-increasing impacts of climate change, from multi-year droughts to intensive flash floods, low- and middle-income countries are particularly threatened. This is because their agri-food systems rely on smallholder farmers with few savings or assets to fall back on if their crops fail. Ensuring rural communities can better adapt and become more resilient to the climate extremes they face must therefore be at the heart of climate action.

Agricultural policymakers often lack up-to-date data, knowledge on local needs and context-appropriate technologies, and approaches that include marginalized groups, such as women, youth, the indigenous, and the landless. The CGIAR Research Initiative on Climate Resilience (ClimBeR), works in partnership with diverse stakeholders to overcome these obstacles via four pathways. These are: reducing risk to food producers’ livelihoods and the value chains that underpin them; ensuring policymakers have evidence on which to base holistic and context-specific policies; understanding security risks posed by climate change and identifying resilient paths to peace; and building capacity for policies that match local needs with available tools to promote ‘governance for resilience’ (G4R) that operates across multiple levels and scales.

One of 130 collaborators on the program, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) leads ClimBeR’s G4R research area. Working in ClimBeR’s focus countries of Kenya, Morocco, Philippines, Senegal, Zambia, Guatemala, and Sri Lanka – with the support of Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) – G4R seeks to help vulnerable nations be better prepared for weather shocks and develop effective long-term adaptation strategies. It does so by catalyzing multiscale, polycentric governance for transformative adaptation; enabling effective response to extreme weather events by developing anticipatory action solutions such as the Early Warning, Early Action and Early Finance (AWARE) platform; supporting planning through the use of the Climate Smart Governance (CSG) dashboard and empowering local climate adaptation champions, as this video shows:

Efforts to implement G4R are initially being focused in Zambia, where IWMI scientists are working with government officials to develop AWARE and CSG tools, and to put in place a Zambia Drought Management System. Grounded in near real-time satellite data on weather, soil and crop conditions, and presented via simple interfaces for use by a wide range of stakeholders, these tools facilitate preventive action ahead of climate shocks, promoting the use of locally relevant farming technologies and approaches, ensuring transparency, and encouraging proactive ‘pre-disaster’ financing. IWMI will be raising awareness of ClimBeR and G4R at COP28, to showcase how freely available global satellite-based technologies and environmental data can be used to support institutions to shape effective climate policy grounded in local and indigenous knowledge.

Through ClimBeR’s LocAlly led Climate adapTation ChampION (ACTION) Grant Program , the Initiative implemented a community-led solar-powered borehole  in Zambia’s Monze District, to better cope with climate extremes such as drought. The borehole has multiple benefits and has resulted in over 900 households now having access to clean water for multiple uses, including drinking water not only for the people of the community but also their livestock, approximately 6,000 of them. By working with the community, listening, and responding to local voices, this intervention by ACTION will not only enhance the climate resilience of local communities but also improve livelihoods and food security, health, and wellbeing through the transformation of land, water, and food systems.

 Transforming agri-food systems

As part of the CGIAR, and as a leader of scientific research in water management solutions, IWMI aims to promote forward-looking solutions to climate challenges. As water and climate are inextricably linked, it strives to create more comprehensive and effective strategies for managing water-related risks. Through ClimBeR, it ensures that communities and systems can withstand and recover from climate extremes by integrating short-term shock-responsive mechanisms with long-term adaptation strategies such as long-term plans for ecosystem restoration, promoting resilient infrastructure with the capacity to withstand and recover from natural disasters, crop diversification, and water management practices.

Bringing together science, diverse stakeholders, and local voices, and promoting digital governance, to enhance the resilience of smallholder production systems is key to transforming the capacity of food, land, and water systems to adapt to climate change. As well as contributing to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, this focus on fostering multi-scale polycentric governance with a localized perspective will help the most vulnerable and marginalized, and smallholders around the world, to not only adapt to but also thrive in the face of unexpected climate shocks and impacts.


Related links:

ClimBeR at COP



Illustration and animation: Video and illustration produced by Cultivate Communications.






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