FAO and the IPCC – linking the science to climate action at country level

At a high-level discussion on the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) called for more in-depth analysis into consumer patterns and food production systems. FAO presented itself as the matchmaker in an urgent task – supporting individual member countries to achieve their climate commitments based on the Report’s scientific evidence.

Despite 186 countries of 197 ratifying the Paris Agreement, global carbon emissions have been increasing steadily ever since its adoption in 2015, threatening agriculture and entire food production systems.

“We need to take the findings of the three IPCC special reports and integrate them into countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions to address land degradation, food insecurity and poverty,” said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General, Climate & Natural Resources. “If we continue as we are we cannot achieve the SDGs”.

FAO hosted this event in Rome on 3rd October, just days after the UN Climate Action Summit in New York. It was organised for the IPCC to present key findings from their Special Report on Climate Change and Land to FAO staff, to better understand and reflect on the findings and their implications for FAO’s objectives. Over 300 participants attended the event, which confirms FAO’s strong interest in the topic and the sense of urgency to act.

"Global GHG emissions must decrease, if we fail we will have to rely solely on land-based mitigation, bioenergy and carbon caption storage. We will also have a tough time ensuring biodiversity," explained IPCC Chair, Hoesung Lee following his comprehensive presentation of the report’s key findings.

What’s new in the Special Report?

The Special Report focuses on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems, all of which threaten food security. It embraces the multiple direct and indirect drivers of natural resource management.

It is particularly relevant to FAO because it looks at land degradation from a human food security perspective and refers to the strong correlations between land degradation and poverty. Its main findings can be summarised in three key messages: Land is under growing human pressure; Land is a part of the solution; but land cannot do it all.

Following the presentations, questions and statements from the audience ranged from food waste and ecosystem services to indigenous knowledge, livestock and the growing urban populations demonstrated the extent of the work ahead.

“Two thirds of the global population are expected to live in cities by 2050…which will have a dramatic impact on how we transport food and make it available to the consumers. The way we produce food really matters – and our choices really matter,” explained Zitouni Ould-Dada, Deputy Director of FAO’s Climate and Environment Division, in response to the audience.

Countries ability to adapt

Hoesung Lee described how the solution to climate change has a lot to do with the world’s ability to adapt to climate change. The adaptability depends on the capacity of the society and one of the key actions we have to take is to invest in proper, appropriate, climate resilient’ infrastructures, particularly in developing countries.

As the event drew to a close IPCC Secretary Abdallah Mokssit, requested peers to make their scientific work available to IPCC and to volunteer as reviewers. The IPCC invites experts from around the world to comment on the accuracy and completeness of the scientific, technical and socio-economic content of each draft report.

14 October 2019, FAO will launch their flagship publication ‘State of Food and Agriculture’ with a focus on food losses and waste reduction.