Ending Hunger: 3 Things That Need To Happen After The Paris Agreement

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By Richard Choularton

The World Food Programme’s vision is to eradicate hunger by 2030, a bold aim in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs require us to leave nobody behind and to meet the needs of those furthest behind first. The Paris Agreement, reached at COP 21 in Paris, prioritizes those most vulnerable to climate change, including the 795 million hungry people in the world today. While it is an unprecedented success, it needs to be backed up with urgent action.

At the end of 2015, over 190 countries concluded a historic agreement on climate change in Paris. This agreement represents a major step forward in the global effort to tackle climate change and end hunger, but what comes next is even more important. 

Climate disasters are one of the leading causes of hunger, and nowhere is urgent action needed more than in the communities and countries around the world suffering from food insecurity. Climate change has a disproportionately negative impact on food-insecure people, 80 percent of whom live in countries that are prone to natural disasters and face high levels of environmental degradation, amplifying the impact of floods and droughts. Climate change could increase the risk of hunger and malnutrition by up to 20 percent by 2050, and could reduce potential agricultural output by up to 30 percent in Africa and up to 21 percent in Asia. 

The Paris Agreement recognizes the importance of achieving food security and eradicating hunger and poverty – but what needs to happen next? Massive investment and action is needed to help people build their resilience to climate shocks, become food secure and to thrive under a changing climate. 

1.    Addressing both the root causes and consequences of climate change.

The agreement indicates that despite rapid efforts to address greenhouse gas emissions, major investments in adaptation will be needed, especially for the most vulnerable people. The Climate Change and Food Insecurity Vulnerability Index – developed by the UK Met Office and WFP and launched in Paris –demonstrates how important large-scale action to both mitigate and adapt will be in our efforts to end hunger by 2030 and beyond.

2.    Innovation and flexible, predictable funding. The agreement recognizes that losses and damages will occur because of increasingly intense and frequent climate extremes.

The Paris Agreement makes a major push to address these losses and damages through improved early warning systems, emergency preparedness, comprehensive risk assessment and management, climate risk insurance and efforts to build the resilience of communities, livelihoods and ecosystems. The Food Security Climate Resilience Facility, launched at COP 21, is one effort by WFP to respond to this need by blending scientific weather forecasting and flexible finance mechanisms.

FoodSECuRE is a ground-breaking tool that triggers action before disasters occur based on a forecast (forecast-based financing) so that communities can prepare for a disaster months in advance. FoodSECuRE also ensures funding during and after shocks, because only through multi-year funding can we build the long-term resilience of vulnerable people to climate change. A FoodSECuRE analysis in Niger and Sudan suggests that responding ahead of disasters lowers the cost of future humanitarian response by half. 

3.    Linking social protection and adaptation represents one of the most important ways to channel investments to the most vulnerable and ensure that large-scale efforts to reduce disaster risk in vulnerable communities are implemented.

WFP and Oxfam America have been testing and scaling up the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative for the last five years as a way to demonstrate how this can be done. R4 combines insurance, safety nets and disaster risk reduction.

To support the implementation of the Paris Agreement, WFP, together with communities, partners and governments, will be taking forward these innovative efforts and many others – such as helping governments to develop and implement national adaptation plans – to translate the ambition of Paris into action to eradicate hunger in communities around the world.