GLASGOW, SCOTLAND — Small farmers who provide up to a third of global food production are in need of innovations that reduce their impact on climate change but also support their livelihoods, CGIAR told global leaders.

This call come as the UK pledges $55 million over two years to CGIAR research. The new pledges will contribute to research and innovation on climate change that could upend the global fight against hunger and poverty.

Many small farmers live in agriculture-dependent areas such as Africa and South Asia. They face increasing climate threats such as drought, flooding and water scarcity.

“For agriculture to become a more sustainable and nature-positive sector, we have to provide tools that allow farmers to rebalance the relationship between agriculture and nature while building resilience to climate change,” said Claudia Sadoff, managing director, Research Delivery and Impact at CGIAR.

One example of work that CGIAR will undertake as part of new commitments is an initiative to develop climate-smart crop seed varieties, such as drought-tolerant wheat or rice that is adapted to grow in water affected by saline intrusion from rising sea levels. CGIAR will lead the “innovation sprint” on Fast Tracking Climate Solutions from Global Germplasm Banks as part of the new United States and United Arab Emirates Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate or AIM4C launched by President Biden at COP26.

The first week at COP26 delivered significant support for climate innovation for farmers across the developing world. Pledges to CGIAR came from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and countries including the United States, Canada, Sweden and Belgium, and now the UK.

The World Bank also reaffirmed a commitment made at the last Climate Action Summit to provide $60 million for CGIAR adaptation work in Africa. Together with on-going contributions, the Bank could potentially provide support in the order of $150 million over the next three years.

“The investments secured at COP26 will accelerate this work, but much more is needed in the long run to fight global hunger and poverty,” Sadoff said. “We must cultivate a global and truly multilateral effort to bridge the remaining investment gap, prioritize adaptation strategies and programs, and support the innovations to confront this unprecedented threat to food systems that feed billions.”

Some examples of where CGIAR will direct its efforts via partnerships in new initiatives include:   

  • Securing the Asian Mega-Deltas from sea-level rise, flooding, salinization and water insecurity.
  • Building systemic resilience against climate variability and extremes.
  • Diversification for resilient agribusiness ecosystems in East and Southern Africa.
  • Mitigation and transformation initiative for GHG reductions of agrifood systems related emissions.
  • Transforming responses to drought and climate variability.
  • Accelerated breeding.
  • Harnessing digital technologies for timely decision-making across food, land, and water systems.