At COP27, we need big wins for a greener future

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At COP27, we need big wins for a greener future

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Last year's global conference on climate seemed like it would catalyse global action to pull humanity back from the brink of catastrophe, but we have yet to see the full scope of actions needed to limit the impacts of climate change.

Now, COP27 is a chance to act decisively, mitigate climate change and help the world’s poorest rural people adapt to its inevitable impacts.

As I join world leaders, climate activists and representatives from communities across the world at COP27, here are three big wins for the planet I hope to see happen by COP28.

Learn from and invest in rural people

Small-scale farmers are sustainably feeding the planet. They grow a third of the world’s food while producing less greenhouse gases and a greater diversity of crops than commercial farms.

As climate change takes hold, we have a lot to learn from them. This could mean switching to drought-resistant crop varieties, building climate-resilient infrastructure or applying holistic nature-based solutions.

For example, in Nicaragua, cacao and coffee farmers sequester nearly three tons of CO2 per hectare each year using agroforestry methods, while in Burkina Faso, revived traditional techniques of growing crops conserve water, condition the soil and increase yields five-fold.

But climate change is also taking a toll on poor rural people. To continue producing sustainably, they must adapt to the new realities of climate change.

And for this, they need financing. IFAD is leading the way on climate finance, having committed US$ 1.2 billion from 2019 to 2021 alone, with plans to increase this investment considerably over the next five years, working alongside partners.

To this end, I implore leaders to meet their target of doubling their adaptation financing by 2025 and dedicate a significant part of this to poor rural communities.

Promote adaptation investment among the private sector

Given the enormity of climate change, public finance alone is not enough. The private sector must be part of the solution. But right now, this isn’t the case. The Climate Policy Initiative’s latest report reveals just how little climate finance comes from the private sector—less than 1 per cent.

This is not just insufficient in order to avert a climate catastrophe. It doesn’t make business sense. Adaptation is much more than just a public good. It’s an unprecedented—and largely untapped—commercial opportunity, particularly for food companies that want to “green” their value chains and future-proof their suppliers.

COP27 marks the moment when public institutions need to grasp this potential. We must develop business cases, instruments (like blended financing) and incentives (like guarantees) to drive private investment towards small-scale farming. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Work together for better results

Achieving a sustainable future, is a collective effort—from governments, and the private sector, to development banks and poor rural people themselves.

For example, government policies can support small-scale farmers and reward them for the crucial ecosystem services they provide, while companies can use sustainable processes and nudge consumers to choose greener products.

For our part, IFAD works with various stakeholders to assemble development finance for the poorest people. Our results show the potential of effective partnerships: each dollar of core contributions to IFAD delivers up to $8 of investment through co-financing.

IFAD’s reputation, trust and recognized leadership in the sector is one reason why the Egyptian government recently asked us to lead the Food and Agriculture pillar of their ambitious Nexus for Water, Food and Energy Programme, which aims to mobilize climate finance and private investment in support of the country’s green transition.

The past year has shown us repeatedly that poor rural people are at the front lines of climate change.

IFAD has always put climate resilience front and centre. Through initiatives like ASAP+, 10 million more rural people will be better able to cope with the impacts of climate change.

But this is just a drop in the ocean. COP27 is our moment to collectively commit to the big wins that can lay the foundation for a fairer future.


Find out about IFAD’s presence at COP27 and tune in to the events at the IFAD pavilion.