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Ensuring environmental sustainability and building resilience to climate change

Smallholder farmers and poor rural people bear the brunt of climate change and the degradation of natural resources. Extreme weather events, such as droughts, storms and floods, are putting pressure on the ecosystems that farmers depend on, as are gradual processes such as rising sea levels and melting glaciers.

Crop failures and livestock deaths are causing economic losses and undermining the food security of rural people with ever-greater frequency, especially in parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

At the same time, the rapidly growing global population demands higher levels of food production. To meet the world’s growing needs, agricultural production must double by 2050, food waste must be reduced and value chains have to become sustainable and efficient.

The ecosystems on which smallholder farmers rely are increasingly undermined. Access to suitable agricultural land is declining, and forest, soil and water resources are increasingly restricted and degraded. 

Many farmers produce on marginal, rainfed land, where water is increasingly scarce. Pollution and overexploitation are causing a serious decline in fish populations, threatening essential sources of income and nutrition.

Improving farming practices and safeguarding the environment

Poor farmers and fishers are guardians of natural resources. With targeted assistance, agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors can play a key role in tackling environmental degradation and climate change.

Improving land management and adjusting farming practices can help alleviate pressure on the environment and lower greenhouse gas emissions. 

Farming systems that embrace sustainable intensification practices can increase crop tolerance, diversify production and hinder environmental degradation.

Sustainable agricultural intensification

IFAD promotes agricultural growth that is environmentally sustainable and integrated into ecosystems. We help farmers and fishers become more resilient to the impact of climate change.

IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme is the largest global climate adaptation programme for smallholder farmers. We channel climate and environmental finance to smallholder farmers, helping them to reduce poverty, enhance biodiversity, increase yields and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

IFAD is also an executing agency of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). These are among the main financial mechanisms for addressing the intertwined issues of poverty alleviation, sustainable ecosystem management and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Through these programmes, IFAD works with our partners to scale up successful approaches to sustainable agricultural production and green value chains. These approaches build climate resilience by managing competing land-use systems while reducing poverty, enhancing biodiversity, increasing yields and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

In depth

Renewable energy

More than 2.5 billion people rely on biomass, such as fuel wood, charcoal, agricultural waste and animal dung to meet their energy needs for cooking. In many countries, these resources account for over 90 per cent of household energy consumption.

Spotlight

IFAD partnership in Bhutan reaping benefits for farmers

Most of the population of Bhutan depend on farming to make a living. However, as the climate crisis bites, this Himalayan nation is being hit by erratic rain, hailstorms and flash floods. This in turn is effecting farmers’ production.

Related news

New project launched to help Chadian farmers adapt to climate change and boost the agriculture sector

October 2019 - NEWS
A new €81.9 million project will help more than 1 million vulnerable small-scale farmers in Chad improve their incomes and food security and boost an underperforming agricultural sector hampered by recurrent droughts and rain-fed farming practices.

IFAD and partners invest US$ 30 million in Samoa to make small-scale farming and fishing more profitable and climate-proof

October 2019 - NEWS
IFAD and Samoa have signed a financing agreement to significantly increase agricultural production and incomes for 25,000 smallholder farmer and fisher families, and to help protect against natural disasters on Samoa’s Savai’i and Upolu islands.

Sudan and IFAD to help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change and manage natural resources

October 2019 - NEWS
With over 80 per cent of the Sudanese labour force engaged in agriculture, a new €77.7 million programme that aims to increase food security and ensure access to natural resources is a vital investment in Sudan’s future.

Related publications

Technologies for Climate-Resilient Smallholder Agriculture: Sharing practices from Brazil with Africa

November 2019
Brazil and Africa share similar environmental, climate and social conditions, and both face similar development challenges. This creates interesting opportunities for South-South collaboration through technology transfer in several areas, including agriculture, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and value chains development.

INSURED - Insurance for rural resilience and economic development

October 2019

INSURED is a technical assistance programme working to strengthen agricultural insurance in IFAD’s portfolio.

Collection of sustainable land management technologies practices by smallholder farmers in Lao PDR

August 2019
This collection of sustainable land management (SLM) technologies and approaches was compiled as part of the Scaling-up SLM practices by smallholder farmers project funded by IFAD. 

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Contact us

For questions please contact Brian J. Thomson,

Knowledge Management and Communication Manager,

+39 0654592282 and mobile: +39 366 6121101, b.thomson@ifad.org