Global Coalition Promises More than $650 Million to Accelerate CGIAR Efforts to Help 300 Million Smallholder Farmers Adapt to Climate Change

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With only 11 growing seasons left to achieve 2030 goal to eliminate hunger, leaders respond to call to action from Global Commission on Adaptation to counter surge of climate extremes

New York, New York (23 September 2019) — A coalition of donors, aid institutions and philanthropy promised today to invest more than US $650 million in the CGIAR System Organization to help 300 million smallholder farmers in developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change, which already are eroding crop and livestock production in places like sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The investments from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the European Commission, Switzerland, Sweden and Germany are part of a broader commitment of more than US $790 million to address the impact of climate change on food and agriculture. The investments announced today at the United Nations Climate Action Summit are a response to a call to action from the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) urging world leaders to mount a “massive effort to adapt to conditions that are now inevitable.”

The GCA is co-chaired by Bill Gates, former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva. Earlier this month, the GCA put forward an agenda for adaptation that contains a detailed action plan for confronting climate threats to agriculture and food security and a recommendation to double the scale of agricultural research through the CGIAR System.

“The global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) made a solemn promise to eradicate hunger and extreme poverty by 2030, and that simply cannot be achieved unless the world’s smallholder farmers can adapt to climate change,” said Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Executive Director of the CGIAR System Organization. “The new investments announced today are a recognition that we have just 11 growing seasons between now and 2030 and farmers need a host of new innovations to overcome a growing array of climate threats. This new funding is an important start towards a global effort to substantially increase support for CGIAR activities.”

CGIAR is a global research partnership dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources for smallholder farmers in the developing world. Investments in CGIAR have proven to be highly cost-effective, generating returns ranging from $2 to $17 for every $1 invested, with significant economic benefits for producers and consumers. CGIAR’s 15 Research Centers are working as a single unit under its flagship Two Degree Initiative for Food and Agriculture. The Two Degree effort is helping small-scale food producers across the globe adapt their farming systems, livelihoods, and landscapes to weather extremes and embrace production practices that lower emissions.

The investment announced today will support a wide range of activities across the CGIAR System to deliver a steady stream of adaptation solutions to smallholder farmers. The commitments to agriculture adaptation announced today include:

  • US $310 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over the next three years to support CGIAR’s shared agenda to tackle climate change and make food production in the developing world more productive, resilient and sustainable. The foundation is the second largest donor to CGIAR after the US Agency for International Development (USAID), with investments contributing to work in crop breeding, seed systems, gender equity, livestock, nutrition, and policy.
  • US $150 million from the World Bank for CGIAR efforts on behalf of smallholder farmers in the developing world over the next three years. “The World Bank is working towards a stepped-up effort on agricultural research in Africa. Towards this end, the Bank intends to work with its partners to develop an IDA financing package of US $60 million for CGIAR-based institutions in Africa,” said Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank Acting CEO. “Together with its on-going contributions, the Bank could potentially provide support on the order of $150 million over the next three years.”
  • The Netherlands will reorient €100 million (US $110 million) towards food systems that are not only more productive, but more adaptive and resilient. The Netherlands will also increase its contribution to CGIAR to €50 million (US $55 million) over two years. The country’s work with CGIAR initiatives includes a strong focus on developing public-private partnerships (PPPs), pursuing research that supports the SDGs, including efforts to help women farmers, and emphasizing the role of urban and rural consumers in achieving sustainable food systems.
  • The UK, through DFID, is committing £45 million (US $56 million) for CGIAR in 2020, alongside an additional £27 million (US $34 million) to support the Global Commission’s recommendations on agriculture. DFID’s past investments have enabled CGIAR to scale-up efforts to develop crop varieties and farming systems that are more resilient and productive along with markets, value chains, technologies and policies that deliver benefits – along with better health and nutrition – to poor communities.
  • Switzerland has committed 33.1 CHF million (US $33 million) to CGIAR for 2020-21. Switzerland’s close partnership with CGIAR targets efforts to find innovative solutions for high-quality food and sustainable natural resource management.
  • The European Commission has committed €32.3 million (US $35 million) to CGIAR for 2020-21. The Commission, through its Development Cooperation (DEVCO) financing, supports CGIAR to develop and maintain a global policy dialogue with regard to a demand-driven agricultural research and innovation agenda.
  • Sweden has committed to increase funding to CGIAR to 150 million SEK (US $16 million). Sweden, through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), has been a partner of CGIAR since 1973, supporting efforts to reduce poverty and famine, and improve health and nutrition through international research, partnerships and leadership.
  • Germany, through the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) commits to strengthen the resilience of 60 million small-scale farmers. In addition, BMZ, together with partners of the InsuResilience Global Partnership, aims at scaling-up access to micro-insurance for 150 million people by 2025, of which more than 90 percent will be smallholder farmers.

        How CGIAR is Leading the Charge on Agriculture Adaptation

        CGIAR’s work is concentrated in areas of the developing world where most people work in agriculture and farming is the main source of food and income for hundreds of millions of households. Climate change is already producing a surge in the frequency and intensity of droughts that is damaging production of Africa’s most important crop, maize, while increased flooding in South Asia is endangering rice harvests that sustain millions. Climate change is also threatening to reverse major reductions in poverty in places like Rwanda, Ghana and Ethiopia that have been achieved largely by boosting the productivity of smallholder farms.

        CGIAR researchers already are delivering a host of new crop varieties to farmers in places like Nigeria and Pakistan that can survive stressful conditions like drought and flooding. And they are rapidly developing more sustainable and resilient approaches to boosting crop and livestock production and reducing climate risks. That includes affordable insurance for poor livestock keepers that uses satellite data to monitor grazing conditions over vast areas and a “climate smart village” approach to resilience that helps entire farming communities embrace a range of new approaches, like drip irrigation for their fruits and vegetables and hardy, more productive livestock breeds.

        Examples of CGIAR’s climate-focused innovations include:

        • Dozens of new varieties of drought-tolerant maize for farmers in sub-Saharan Africa that are increasing farmers’ yields by 20-30 percent. In Zimbabwe, maize farmers already are harvesting an additional 600 kilos or more than 1,300 pounds per hectare. Further adoption across the region will benefit 30-40 million people in 13 countries and provide added grain worth US $160-200 million per year in drought-affected areas, generating up to $1.5 billion in benefits for producers and consumers.
        • Climate change-ready rice, including new “scuba rice” varieties that survive under water for up to 17 days could benefit 18 million farming households and save millions more from hunger. In Bangladesh and India alone, rice lost to flooding each year could feed 30 million people.
        • In Nigeria, improved varieties of cassava developed by CGIAR scientists already have helped 1.8 million farmers escape poverty. CGIAR breeders are now developing even better varieties of this naturally hardy crop that offer disease-resistance and higher levels of Vitamin A, a nutrient especially critical to childhood development.
        • New varieties of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes developed to match a host of different farming conditions are rapidly gaining popularity in sub-Saharan Africa. They also offer high levels of Vitamin A and can survive climate stress that kills other crops. CGIAR is delivering a host of other climate-smart crop varieties, including heat- and drought-tolerant beans and improved varieties of neglected grains like pearl millet and sorghum.
        • CGIAR experts are developing solar-powered irrigation pumps for large-scale distribution in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The pumps are to be deployed alongside advanced information systems to ensure they can help farmers sustainably adapt to increasingly unreliable rains, but without stressing available water resources.

        “We’ve also been working closely with smallholder farmers across the developing world for almost 50 years,” said Grainger-Jones. “We know a lot about the crops they grow, the livestock they keep and the challenges and opportunities they currently face. We are ready to put the full force of our insights and activities behind a major effort to confront the climate emergency they now face.”

        About CGIAR

        CGIAR is a global research partnership for a food-secure future. CGIAR science is dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources and ecosystem services. Its research is carried out by 15 CGIAR Centers in close collaboration with hundreds of partners, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia, development organizations and the private sector. CGIAR research is supported by funders through their contributions to the CGIAR Trust Fund and to CGIAR Research Centers. 

        Media Inquiries

        Valerie Poire, Senior Manager, Communications, CGIAR System Organization,, mobile: +33 6 37 21 66 57.

        Photos of CGIAR work available.

        Header photo by J. Turner/IRI.

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