Margarita Astrálaga, Director of IFAD’s Environment and Climate Division, gave a speech on Water resourses, agriculture and climate change, an analysis in the run-up of COP21 (Friday, November 20, h. 09:30, Red Room)

Agriculture investment programs are being impacted by climate change in terms of effects on crop yields, on price volatility for agricultural commodities, on agricultural value chains and on the abundance, distribution and quality of freshwater. Water scarcity affects every continent, and more than 40 per cent of the people on our planet. All this has consequences on agricultural investment portfolios, from the need to raise more financing to invest in preventive action to requiring more awareness about climate risks and more capacity in identifying and devising specific investment actions to reduce them.  Climate-resilient agriculture requires a major shift in the way land, water, soil  nutrients and genetic resources are managed to ensure that these resources are used more efficiently. However this is not all about agricultural techniques. Making this shift requires considerable changes in national and local governance, legislation, policies, market and financial mechanisms.

Policy processes can create an enabling environment for increasing the capacity of poor rural populations to adapt. However, all too often the needs of these populations are ignored in such processes. Poor rural people are the group most exposed to the impacts of climate change, yet they are typically the least represented in national and global policymaking on the issue. In fact smallholders are among the best possible clients for climate finance: if we invest more and better in their access to weather information, disaster preparedness, social learning and technology transfer, smallholders will be able to feed a growing planet while at the same time restoring degraded ecosystems and reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint.