Climate Change Policy

A young boy herds goats along a dry riverbed near Dira Dawa, Ethiopia. Photo: Laura Rance

A young boy herds goats along a dry riverbed near Dira Dawa, Ethiopia.
Photo: Laura Rance

Smallholder farmers are among those most likely to suffer hunger from climate change.

Smallholder farmers already face numerous hurdles to grow enough food for themselves and their families. They need sufficient fertile land, rains at the right time, health and strength to work the fields, freedom from conflict, access to inputs, and fair marketing opportunities. Climate change is an additional burden for smallholder farmers.

A changing climate not only means higher temperatures, but also longer droughts, greater flood damage, stronger storms, sea level rise, and spread of human, livestock and plant diseases.

Many of the farmers the Foodgrains Bank supports are already noticing changes, such as unpredictable rains and more frequent droughts.

Our member agencies are doing excellent programming work in helping farmers adapt to these changes—be it conservation agriculture, small irrigation schemes, or sand dams.

But this is a global problem. And it requires changes in national and global policies to effectively help developing countries—and those most vulnerable—cope with climate change.

What are we trying to do?

We are calling on the Canadian government to help developing countries adapt to climate change by contributing its fair share of funding to international efforts. At the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009, developed countries, including Canada, agreed to a goal of mobilizing $30 billion a year for 2010-2012 and $100 billion a year by 2020 for developing countries.

What have we accomplished?

The Canadian government delivered on its commitment of $1.2 billion between 2010 and 2012 to help developing countries cope with climate change. This dollar amount is what Foodgrains Bank and other aid agencies were advocating for.

In November 2015, the Government of Canada committed $2.65 billion over five years to help developing countries tackle climate change and adapt to its impacts.

What are we still working on?

Mathilda Kakonje, a conservation agriculture workshop participant from Zambia.

Mathilda Kakonje, a conservation agriculture workshop participant from Zambia.

So far most of Canada’s climate change financing is supporting mitigation in developing countries—efforts to slow climate change. We are urging the government to ensure that more goes towards adaptation—helping smallholder farmers and others adjust to the changes they are experiencing. This is the key priority for smallholder farmers.

We are also advocating that all funding should be additional to existing development assistance, so that other vital areas, such as health and education, aren’t neglected. Adaptation funding should be given as grants not loans. And it should be focused on those most vulnerable to climate change, including small-scale farmers.

The Canadian government has so far made no specific commitments beyond 2020. We are calling for increased and more predictable support in the longer term, as needs are getting more severe.

We are also advocating for sustainable agricultural practices, such as conservation agriculture, that can empower farmers to adapt to climate change, while also increasing food production.

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