In the context of a new GAIN series on "Climate and Nutrition: Why They Need Each Other", we bring together a new episode of GAIN’s interview cruncher to hear from two of the world’s leading scientists on the impact of climate change on nutrition and food security.
Shiulie Ghosh: Hello, and welcome to the latest episode of GAIN’s Interview Cruncher - I am Shiulie Ghosh and I'm delighted to be hosting this session.
As part of GAIN’s new series on climate change and nutrition and why they need each other. From plant growth to crop yields, it's clear that our food security is being challenged on multiple fronts: high temperatures drought, flooding, they are all taking their toll.
Today we're going to be hearing from two of the world's leading scientists on how climate change threatens nutrition and food security and try to answer some of the most pressing questions about the expected crisis.
So, how does climate change affect our ability to produce the food needed to feed a growing population? How does it impact on the nutritional value of food? And what does it mean for those people who are already struggling to eat a sufficient and healthy diet?
We will be drawing on the latest scientific evidence to lay out the most impactful actions we can take to respond to the changes which are coming, as well as reducing the emissions from our food systems. We have also got the COP 27 climate conference coming up in November, so we'll be asking what actions and what commitments, we need to see from governments around the world and what kind of solutions can be implemented.
And we'll also be reflecting on GAIN’s work to ask what we and other actors can do to respond to the growing threat of climate change.
So let me introduce our speakers: Cynthia Rosenzweig, who is a Senior Research Scientist at the the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. She leads the climate impacts group investigating the interactions of climate on systems and sectors, important to human well being. And in 2022 she was awarded the World Food Prize for her work on climate impacts on the agricultural sector, at both national and global level.
We also have Mario Herrero, Professor of Sustainable Food Systems and Global Change in the department of Global Development, at Cornell University. He's also a Cornell Atkinson Scholar and Nancy and Peter Meinig Family Investigator in the Life Sciences, Department of Global Development. He has over 25 years of research and development experience and he's a newly appointed GAIN Board member.
And we have with us Jessica Colston, the Environment Technical Lead for GAIN. Jessica works across GAIN’s programs partnerships and advocacy work to help realize GAIN ambition to become a truly green NGO.
Welcome to all the speakers!
Cynthia, I'm going to start straight with you, because we know that people in certain parts of the world are already struggling to get enough food and to get enough healthy and nutritious food.
How does climate change impact on the ability to produce enough food to feed the world's population?
Cynthia Rosenzweig: Thank you Shiulie! Thanks for the introduction and I have prepared a PowerPoint to answer the first question and then I'm going to give some pointers to some of the later discussion.
To answer your question about climate change in food, what's the latest? Because there's now been work for a couple of decades or more - as Mario has been working on it for 24/25 years at least - but what is the latest a right now? What in terms of what we're learning and know about climate change in food?
So, to start off we have turned to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, because they are the groups of scholars from all over the world who sift and window through all of the studies and research and then bring forward to the policymakers of the world, as well as everyone in the world, what's the latest on climate change in food.
I'm going to start there, and Shiulie, just as you said, climate change, especially, including the increases in the extreme events and in the extreme events of: it's not just they're both more frequent but they're also more intense, these are the droughts and the heat waves.
And this key point from the IPCC to start off with is that: this is happening already, it's no longer in the future, this is happening now, it has already reduced food and water security.
And then the IPCC links this very closely with the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and you know where the world is supposed to be achieving those by 2030. That means we only have eight years left!
So, the IPCC in the diagram on the right, what's new is that they are really bringing together, not just agriculture and crop production - there were most of the decades previously they've there's been work on the crops, which, of course, are very important - but they then bring together the animal and livestock health and, I know we're going to be talking about that, and productivity - Mario is going to be talking about that he's a world worldwide expert in that - and then bringing the fisheries in as well.
So they're bringing all of the elements of food security together.
What the diagram is showing a very briefly is - what I've circled in red are - first of all, the places that we have high confidence that this is happening already.
That's the dark purple and then I've circled the place where there are increasing adverse impacts.
So, I know we're going to delve more deeply into Africa and Asia later, but Africa is a place very much a being affected already by climate change.
Australasia, the small islands, very, very critical and most vulnerable place: places on earth to climate change and they've also included the high latitudes so the indigenous populations in the high latitudes also very important parts in the Arctic and urban areas.
Urban food security is now being really brought in by the IPCC and then Mediterranean area, you know I think the whole world loves the Mediterranean region, we see effects happening there already so that's the first link from the first news from IPCC.
Now that's what's happening already, now turning to the future climate change will increasingly put pressure on the food production and access because, look, the projections are things are just going to basically get worse and worse and worse.
And again, we see in Africa, risk to food security, risk of malnutrition, here's the link to nutrition coming in with micronutrient deficiency.
Loss of livelihoods such a key part of food security and Asia as well with declining coastal fisheries. This the diagram on the right, is a very famous IPCC diagram, it's called the Burning Embers Diagram, and it's been done for many different systems, but this is what this is one that was done by the IPCC Working Group 2, that came out earlier this year on food production, combining crops, fisheries and livestock in Africa and what this is showing is it links it to the global surface temperature.
And is showing the dotted line is what we've experienced so far, over 1 degree of warming already and 1.5 is the target warming from the Paris Agreement. And when you see the yellow which is moderate risk - change to red - change to very high, we see why.
The IPCC scientists have called out the 1.5 degrees sea warming, which is what we need to keep the warming to avoid a tremendously greater risk to food security, in this case in Africa, but throughout the world.
And just one more, this is the work of AGMIP, the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project, that Mario is also on the steering Council for AGMIP as well. This is work from AGMIP that that was brought forward in the IPCC as well and it's that the latest climate projections are showing that not only more negative effects but earlier negative effects, and that is why you see that yellow line emerging from the envelope of historical variability, to show that climate change, basically, this is highlighting of course maize, a very, very important and ubiquitous crop throughout the world, the projections are getting worse.
Now, I know we're going to be talking a lot about nutrition. And just want to give a quick recap with this slide: which is the combined effects of climate change and high carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Here on the left is current [the present day] , when we were just talking about climate change is projected is, the red - is the decrease in the production of crops, the yields, but when you bring in the CO2 fertilisation and climate change, it helps on the crop productivity, but work has shown that it affects the micronutrients, the quality of the crop.
So, this this is one of the key linkages that climate change alone decreases calories, CO2 effects restore calories, but decreases the nutrient quality of the crops, so this is one of the key linkages.
I won't go into this whole box in our diagram but you know what we're in this situation now is that we can't only think about climate change, so Chrissy By and others from the World Adaptation Science Programme - which is all the UN agencies working on on climate change and these challenges - did a paper in which we compared and brought together climate change and the COVID 19 crisis, so that's when we think about health, and the supply chain issues and thinking about food security, this is the effects of COVID, potential future pandemics, right? And then we added into the slide conflict because of the really significant effects that are in the news every day on the grain supplies from the Ukraine region that feeds so much of the world, it is absolutely one of the world's bread baskets.
But also, don't forget the fertilizer effects as well, the prices have gone up 30 to 40% already and that's having effects globally for fertilizer prices and supplies affecting right here in the United States, but many places as well.
But this is showing how we have to think about the development pathways, remember? We talked about sustainable development, we've got to keep that in mind and figure out all these three crises out together.
Very challenging, but we've got to do it. This is my last slide which I hope will be launching us into our discussion.
This would be, this is the project that we want to do: AGMIP with Mario and GAIN, would like to do to work together to bring representative dietary pathways into the work that we do, which is projecting how climate change will affect food.
We have to create really create with multi-model approach, which is much more rigorous than anything that's been done before, food and nutrition security metrics toolbox.
So with that, please, if you are interested, please join AGMIP, please check out the website and looking forward to the discussion, thank you very much.
Shiulie Ghosh: Cynthia, thank you so much for that, and you know we always talk a lot about the impact of climate change, but when you see it all put together like that, I mean it's extremely eye opening isn't it? And thank you, and I know that we're going to delve a little deeper into some of those things that you've brought up there.
And so, Mario, let me turn to you, and clearly some very sobering information laid out by Cynthia there. What can we do them to adapt to the effects of climate change on nutrition and food systems and try and reduce greenhouse gas production from food systems themselves?
Mario Herrero: Thanks a lot for the question. I think it's great Cynthia gave a great a presentation that that will now open Pandora's box.
I'll try to give you some of the pointers for the kinds of things that we could do, and the kinds of things that GAIN can do, or that its already involved [in] .
A key point I want to make in in this debate is that, you know, we need global concerted action.
Look, for example, the recent crisis in Europe. There hasn't been anybody, any continent that has put more effort into say, reducing emissions that Europe, yet they are now feeling the brunt of full climate change and with the heatwave that they've had and other things. So, this really shows that you know if we meet every single region needs to do the same.
And Cynthia mentioned, you know, look this is from the Guardian of the day, the falls in Europe crop production. And you know, this is just in Europe, now imagine what happens in low-and-middle-income countries. It's scary and why? Because these are the countries that will have a very low capacity for adapting. They are way more vulnerable than Europe, the US all the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries, which can actually throw money at the problem, but that's not the case in Africa.
Apart from that, we get this completely different manifestation of the climate change impacts, that really is changing the way we must adapt.
We tend to think a lot about drought, and you know everything getting dryer and so on, but the reality is that you know, we're talking about droughts, flood, climate variability. We're talking about these things happening at the same time in different seasons, in the same parts of the world, so it's a really tricky problem to actually solve.
This is what happens on terrestrial ecosystems and so on, but in reality it's also beyond farming system, since where I want to actually show this diagram of the food system. The food system climate change will have impacts on the whole of the food system.
We tend to focus on the food supply chains and food production, but in reality, you know, with heat waves, with floods, etc, we are actually having significant impacts on food, storage and loss, food processing and packaging and retails. We're getting into a lot more food waste with these disrupting supply chains and we're destroying food environments, especially those very important informal ones that are critical for the poor.
And this is affecting how we consume and utilise food and the stability of supply and consumption. This is a systemic problem, it's not just what happens in the individual farm or producers, but this affects consumers on a range of other actors in the system and here's where GAIN plays a really important role.
Because GAIN has been really, very instrumental in dealing with all the aspects that go beyond food production and so on. I just want to mention livestock, because a livestock is very much at the centre of many of these debates, and on one hand, we tend to focus on the mitigation aspects and the greenhouse gas emissions of livestock, but at the same time, there are significant losses of production occurring now as a response of this heat waves.
A recent paper that we did, led by my colleague Phillip Thornton, estimated a loss of $40 billion per year, or about 10% of the value of production of livestock being wiped out because of these heat waves, with the biggest effects occurring in low a low and middle income countries. This is significant for the poor, for which livestock is a critical asset and a source of nutrients.
Let's move a little bit and talk about emissions. You know, Cynthia and I participated in the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land, and I think that in that report we estimated that the food system was responsible for between 21% and 37% of anthropogenic emissions. Recently, a group of colleagues from FAO from the JIC Centre and, I think that Cynthia was also part of this effort, really looked at where these emissions coming from and it's clearly a land base issue. Land is really important, how we produce, how we consume food, the demand for food places an enormous spike in controlling the land use patterns that we utilise for the production of food. There are differences between industrialised and developing countries, primarily in the energy emissions with industrialised countries with more formal markets a needing more refrigeration, more processing, etc, so that component is a little bit higher.
But the reality is that it's really about land use and production, when we're dealing with emissions, and there are many ways in which we could actually change production patterns, make them more efficient, make them more diverse, and so on.
And then you know, then comes the other side of things: we've been talking about the supply of food, but the demand is also important. And what we do matters a lot for health, nutrition and also for greenhouse gas mitigation. This is a slide coming from the EAT-Lancet Commission, from the study on healthy diets from sustainable food system and, if you take here the 100% line which is basically the EAT-Lancet recommended diet, you can see, at the top, that you know there's considerable variation in over and under consumption of red meat, starchy vegetables, eggs and poultry: basically the animal products and some of the starchy vegetables.
In some places, we need to increase consumption of these, and in other places, we need to try to moderate consumption and perhaps to reduce it. But, on the other side of this graph towards the bottom, we find that we're not eating enough of many of the things in all the regions.
And this goes from vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and not super nutritious, super protective. And also bearing the brunt of climate change impacts in many ways. But GAIN, are very much about a providing a trying to increase markets, trying to incentivise the production of these elements of the diet as well, we need to do much better at increasing the supply, and really providing incentives for meeting the demand for this for these products, which we know, probably less about climate change impacts. So this is actually a clear research issue for the future, and we at AGMIP are very interested in delving in this space in the near future.
It's certainly the next big missing link that we need to tackle and it's essential for really getting more nutrition into the climate change impacts, apart from the ones that Cynthia mentioned on the reductions or changes in micronutrients.
We know that there's plenty of things to do, and you know we keep this is again work that we did a spite of the Special Report on Climate Change and land and what you see here is different. You know, different classes or types of options, and many of them have dual benefits of medication and adaptation, so we want the options that have these double-whammy, because it's really important and it's a lot more efficient for farmers to be able to do this.
From the perspective of the whole value chain, here, you see, towards the bottom - aspects related to improve food supply chains and also demand management. I think that, from GAIN’s perspective, this is less of an agronomic kind of suite of options, and GAIN are already involved in many of these, you know food storage infrastructure, shortening supply chains, improving food transport and distribution, working on the food environments, reducing food losses, promoting urban and peri-urban agriculture.
It's these kinds of things that can really make a difference and that can make a difference in low-and middle-income countries, and many of these will have a very important effects also on the mitigation component. We are not about silver bullets, this is a very important thing to mention.
This is about packages, how do we intelligently come with a mix-and-match of these different options for different environments, different countries and so on, and the same happens on the policy side.
This is my last slide, but you know, we also did in the Special Report on Climate Change and Land, an inventory of what could happen for policy measures. And they come all the way from how, how are we going to deal with the supply side? But also many of those are about racing profitability and modifying demand, like you know, funding for reduce food waste, all the awareness campaigns, educations.
The current discussion around changing subsidies, implementing a new standards, and food labelling and so on, that will become an extremely important ancillary measures so that the other adaptation options group.
You know, I tried to be really positive, and I think that you know, a human ingenuity has won through centuries, and I really think that with good science and solid, and improvements in institutions, and we were going to actually be able to making inroads in tackling this problem, especially for the Board, thank you very much.
Shiulie Ghosh: Thank you, Mario and it's good to hear that you're positive and that you're an optimist and I think it's clear that there are actions that can be taken from what you've said, and I think the question is timing. Will come a time crunch we're on, and also the point you make about you know many low income countries are going to struggle to put in place some of those measures and, with that in mind I'd like to delve a little deeper into how countries can adapt to this.
Cynthia let me go back to you because obviously you've been deeply involved in research on agricultural sectors.
How are these particularly changing in in Africa and South Asia, these are some of the countries which are our most widely affected by the impact of climate change and what does that means it's in production there?
Cynthia Rosenzweig: Yes, so AGMIP works all over the world and we're a network of over 1,000 food system researchers and modellers. So we're just right now finishing a project in Senegal, Ghana and Zimbabwe, and what we're learning there is:
First of all, there are teams there, we call them the AGMIP A Team, standing for Adaptation Teams, because Mario is absolutely right, it is not a silver bullet, it is really adaptation packages and policies. What AGMIP is doing now, with the A Teams in these countries, and now we are looking to expand both in Africa and elsewhere - it's working at two scales at once. This is one of the things that we have to do, to deal with these droughts, heat waves, floods, as Mario also rightly pointed out, all of these extreme events can happen in one season. They can be concatenating, adding on to each other so we have to get a lot smarter.
So what the AGMIP has now developed a coordinated national, and the agricultural region within the country, because no country has enough funds, they have to prioritise, right? And so what AGMIP does is help the national stakeholders, decision makers see what are the most effective adaptation packages that can then be used to scale up to get to as many regions as possible.
We take a development pathway approach, because it's not only “it's okay we're planting earlier or later, depending on the rainy season" you know now, it really is about what kind of development pathway does the country want to be on for their agricultural development, their food system, development?
And so, what needs to be done to create a sustainable development pathway at the national level, and then what needs to be done in the different regions with tailored interventions. And that's what we use the models for because it's very helpful, because you don't have to do as many field trials and field trials take a long time season after season.
Shiulie Ghosh: You're allowing them to make informed decisions?
Cynthia Rosenzweig: Exactly, and that's why I also share, because we work with so many researchers all around the world, I share Mario's optimism. I mean it's serious optimism... it's significant, I mean these challenges are highly significant. But because this approach to all work together, it's really bearing fruit and the national stakeholders are telling a decision. I am telling you this is what we want, we want these modelling results we want to learn more about the model, so that we can then ask and they asked the questions and what they would like us to do.
Shiulie Ghosh: I mean that that that's really encouraging, and let's talk about some of the challenges? Mario, sticking with those regions of South Asia and Africa, there's gotta be some trade offs right? In addressing the needs of trying to mitigate climate change to keeping nutrition at a good level, and you mentioned livestock, mean livestock is a notorious example of something that provides nutrition, but is also bad in the sense of emissions and impact on climate change. So how do you deal with that?
Mario Herrero: Yeah, well, you know livestock are not always bad in terms of emissions. I think that we are making good inroads into, first of all, understanding, much better consumption patterns and what needs to be eaten and where, but also you know, where can we produce livestock at low opportunity costs for the environment?
I think that this is something critical that we need to do, to be better at, for example, trying to produce livestock where there's really no competition with arable land becomes really important in many places. Using for example circularity a as a way of providing feed, from food waste, from crop by-products, from a range of substrates to be able to produce a lifestyle, a little bit more decoupled from.
Let me give you an example about circularity, we know that if you if you were to use all the food waste of the world to, to put it through livestock production, you could actually produce around 23 grams of protein per person per day. And this is about 40% of adults requirements, can you imagine? It's something that merits further investigation, because these are the kinds of things that that really need to happen. In low-and-middle-income-countries, obviously the improvement of emissions intensities by increasing productivity, still remains one of the most important ways of a reducing the impacts of livestock and if you couple this with a reduction of animal numbers, so I still have a more productive, but less cows, this actually creates a environmental gains of all sorts, you know land use, there is, less problems of trying to find fodders, a less water needed, a less resources in general.
So you know, it will be a combination of demand management and also smarter farming.
That will, together with regulations and incentives for farmers, in reality we haven't tested enough mechanisms for promoting improved environmental stewardship through livestock systems, you know, if this makes it to the commercial sector, well then we'll see even bigger gains.
Shiulie Ghosh: Yeah, and I think we'll also talk a little bit more later on, about the incentives needed for policymakers.
I want to bring Jessica in at this point as she is obviously listening to the discussion. Let's talk a bit about the role of organisations like GAIN, what is GAIN doing to respond to the threat of climate change on both nutrition and security?
Jessica Colston: Thanks Shiulie, and it's been fascinating to listen to the discussion so far, and really underlined for me why GAIN has started this journey to look at the climate and understand how our programmess interacted and what we should be doing.
There's two big things GAIN is really looking at: one is to take a look internally at what we do and say, how can we do this in a way that is more climate sensitive? Both in terms of mitigation and making sure that everything GAIN does is consistent with that sort of, low emissions sustainable pathway. And then also to look at where we need to adapt and bring in this adaptation [ into ]actions to ensure better nutrition, the future. The other big area we look at is advocacy.
Obviously, there are many things that GAIN can’t influence and control, but what we can do is that we can go out and tell the world about what really needs to happen for climate and nutrition.
And so, I mean, just to expand on the first one about - I think Mario already started to speak - a bit about GAIN's focus and our work.
We work in 9 different countries in Africa and South Asia and it's all about trying to increase access to healthy, safe and nutritious foods. And lots of those things as Mario was saying, about increasing the demand for certain foods, looking at the value chains, thinking about how you really get those foods from the farm to the consumer. So often it's not immediately obvious how that might relate with climate, how we make it more climate friendly but I'll give you one example:
We have a project in Pakistan, which is all about increasing the access to dairy for poor consumers that's really going to improve their nutrition.
And so, we started that just as a nutrition programme, just looking at that side of things. And then we realised that one of the dairy companies we were working with was finding those 10,000 litres of whey producing the cheese making process every single day.
And what our project bended was to say look, that's a nutritious product, can we use that? And turn that waste into something that reaches the consumer.
And that's exactly what they did, and they developed a nutritious drink and those children can access. And you know cheap single serving packets, and so it's easy for consumers to afford.
And that's a really good example, I think, is exactly what Mario was just touching on in that last point, you know how do you do more with what we have, and make the best use of those resources?
And so that's the kind of thing I spend my time looking at, looking at all of our programmes, looking for those opportunities.
And I think we'll discuss a bit more on some of the advocacy side later, but the second big part of my role is going out and thinking about the global stage. What needs to happen and looking ahead to events like COP 27 thinking about that integrated policymaking. And Cynthia was touching on land and water, the kind of packages and things that need to happen in different places, yeah.
Shiulie Ghosh: And I think that is so fascinating and such an important issue about reducing food wastage as you've said. Because this is one of the things that is going to make a huge difference and we're really going to need to look at as we look at the changing world that we're living in, and Cynthia you touched on this. You know we're not just having to deal with climate change, there were so many unexpected things coming up - these of cascading events, the pandemic, that were coming through and then people are predicting more pandemics and future and, of course, the hugely disruptive conflict going on in Ukraine, and then the pressure that batters put on the world's food supplies, and is it possible to prepare for these kind of multiple crises which seem to be happening at the same time?
Cynthia Rosenzweig: We have to! You know, but what is it like before detail, you have to have a plan, it doesn't work, it never works, but you've got to have a plan! And that's what research is all about, but I think clearly what we would now need to do is create research teams. I really think it's all has to be transdisciplinary, interdisciplinary teams and bring in the multiple stresses and have protocol so you know our big thing in AGMIP is protocols, because when you have protocols then the studies can be replicated by others, so it's not just the individual team that gets the funding for that particular project, but then those protocols can be used and when, they're by other teams, and then the results can be compared, so we are learning across.
And that leads me to, I think, something very important from the cascading shocks, and stresses: the trends boundary aspects. So, for a really, really, really, a long time the research has really just been very place bases, and of course, it has to be? You know, it has to be right food systems are fundamentally right there on the ground right with the farmers, but at the same time, it has these telescoping scales. I talked before about the regions within the country's - the national, but then there's now a new area of research in adaptation science on transboundary research, and this is bringing in the global, the regional and global supply chains.
I think for the stresses, in particular, we see just the conflict side with the Ukraine and the grain supplies, We have to be considering considering the shocks and the effects on the transboundary issues as well, and this is a this has to be a growing area of research as well.
Mario Herrero: Yeah, I would like to add to that, you know, and the other thing that we must do a well, as you know, a in climate change, we tend to use a range of scenarios, both for the climate change signals, but also scenarios of how we imagine classical futures for the world's different sectors. I think that our next set of scenarios needs to explore more broadly, issues related to extreme events, and put actually more extreme notions of how the world might evolve. I think it's really important, because you know, we can use those types of exercises to improve our preparedness.
It's really, really important to improve the way we could handle these things in the future and already start thinking of what are the potential investment needs that we are going to need?
You know, financing is one of the things that you know, has to be pathetically slow in climate change. Look, if there's a lesson from the COVID pandemic is that look in three months, I think the first three months, like 40 billion were raised to develop vaccines, a that were developed in a year!
That is unprecedented!
Shiulie Ghosh: Because it suddenly became a huge priority for governments. Essentially, action became a massive priority. So, how do you get policymakers to say right, this is our priority! And we've seen various climate conferences, where promises are made, and then the money doesn't follow.
Mario, how do we get governments to actually follow through on their promises?
Mario Herrero: Yeah, you know, that the key thing of COVID pandemic is that it personalised the issue. You know because it's about life or death it's about human response and with climate change, you know until very recently, you know it was seen as well, the environment, a global good, it's not a personal kind of thing, but now that we are really starting to really start feeling the heat as a - funny thing - you know people I really going to start a throwing big money at it, what I foresee, you know we kind of keeping having the kinds of heat waves and the human losses, etc, that that we are starting.
Shiulie Ghosh: Cynthia pointed out we've got these global promises - 2030 apparently that's the deadline. Cynthia do you see that happening, I mean, how do we get government to act rightly?
Cynthia Rosenzweig: Shiulie, you had you mentioned COP 27 in Egypt, and it is going to be the COP of food, all of the groups and I'm sure GAIN - Jessica I'm sure you're working with all the groups, and then the colleagues, also because Egypt being in Africa wants to lead. I know they are a natural leader for a focus on food and when we link up the numbers that Mario showed on the emissions, which is what he and I work together on the IPCC special report on land - Basically, food, the food system, overall, is responsible for 1/3 of human caused greenhouse gas emissions, therefore we cannot solve climate change unless we address food.
It's all laid out on the table, all the food groups are going. Right Jessica? Everybody is like it's going to be the food COP and that's why we all have to make sure we get there and ahead of time, you know, it's not just being there - if you've ever been there, it's amazing, it's an amazing experience - but in order to really get something happening there you have to work ahead of time as I know, GAIN is doing. You have to be getting with the countries and the diplomats ahead of time before the Paris Agreement, those French diplomats went around the world, I think, for two years ahead of time.
We as a community have to decide what it is we want, what language - you see there's a lot of hoopla right there with everyone being there - but it's really about what is the language that's going to be in the declaration from Sharm El-Sheikh, what are the monetary commitments that are going to be lined up ahead of time, it's deciding on those concrete actions - that's what we have to do, and we as a community, - and I also really believe, you know, everything now is partnerships of partnerships right?
The partnerships and partnerships - so one thing that I really feel we need to do is bring the nutrition community and the climate change community as this Interview Cruncher is doing, but we have to make it real, that that that we bring those groups together, because then we have the power of the partnership of the partnership.
Shiulie Ghosh: And this is exactly what groups like GAIN, is trying to do so. Jessica, as we were saying behind the hoopla, advocacy is going to be such an important tool in trying to change habits, trying to change policies and trying to get policymakers on side. With things like COP 27 coming up, what are your hopes to that?
Jessica Colston: Yes, so I think I share the optimism that has been expressed so far, but perhaps there's some reservations on how you get this moving and I think in the run up to COP 27, since you mentioned that where we're working this, of course, and this weekend I was in Cairo for an initial consultation about what some of the food activities might be at COP 27. And I think there's two things organisations that GAIN really must do.
I think one is emphasising that narrative, that urgency, why do we care about this? What is going to happen? And you know, creating that sense that we have to do somethingm and because, as Mario is saying, you know, that's when the policy and the finance action really follows, and you know, I think organising events like this. And I'm glad that GAIN could convene this conversation, because I think it really demonstrates exactly why nutrition is so important in climate change.
And then I think the second is much more challenging and that's around what I would call "translation". So, translation from these kind of big complex systems that we're trying to understand that there's lots of research into, you know these packages of actions things that are very context specific into something that you can invest in, that you can take your nationally determined contribution to the Paris Agreement and say look, this is something we're committing to and I think that that's the other challenge with food and nutrition.
I think it's partly around people haven't felt the urgency, yet, but I think a big part is that complexity. And, and I think a role for GAIN and other NGOs is taking that middle ground somewhere between the science, somewhere between business, somewhere between what's going on in the ground and trying to express that and saying look, this is what we really need to see from finance, from business, from governments at an event like COP 27.
Shiulie Ghosh: Mario you want to add to that?
Mario Herrero: Yes, adding on what Jessica said just to take it a step further, that needs to create an accountability framework. It's beyond advocacy now.
It's really holding accountable to admit this to every business trying to do a what they can, and for this we need metrics, for this we need protocols, for this we need a series of incentives, but we've been trying to do advocacy for the last 20 years. I remember COP in Denmark, where I went, I can't remember you know which number, it was and we were all about..
Shiulie Ghosh: There were so many!
Mario Herrero: Food is going to be the big thing on this one, and everything and look now we're talking about that this might materialise in Egypt. But you know, now we need to start holding people responsible for their actions, I think it’s essential, especially that money starts flowing in this. We cannot just keep with the business as usual..
Shiulie Ghosh: The problem is, I mean saying that we need to hold government accountable, a lot of governments, feel that they can't take action or implement these policies because they don't have the resources to do so and to make those changes so how what kind of help to do we need to give to low- and middle-income countries to make these changes possible?
Mario Herrero: You know finance, climate finance needs to really be ramped up for things to really start materialized.
Shiulie Ghosh: For COP 26 and I'm not sure, I think I'm right in saying that a lot of those pledges didn't materialize, I think, in part because you know a lot was taken over by COVID but there has to be commitment from richer governments as well to enable the developing countries to make these kinds of changes.
Mario Herrero: Yes, absolutely and here's where the repurposing of subsidies, a conversation needs to occur, there's a lot of money locked into some of the actions and that could actually change, but also a you know, in ensuring that say things like the Green Climate Fund and others really become a more operational and way more agile in the way that they release funds and so on, because it's I know so many people have been having trouble accessing funds.
Cynthia Rosenzweig: I think we need six success stories on the ground.
I was talking to a colleague yesterday, who said “you know how like at the Harvard Business School they have these case studies right? And everybody studies them and right everybody is coming from all over the world and they're studying them» and those people go back and they're, the ones who were in their governments and really deciding. We need really viable, I'm looking to Mario, successful, sustainable livestock case studies.
We need from the mixed small and then on the you know the, for example, that's like in countries like Brazil and Uruguay and Ireland right? It's not just all developing countries and New Zealand right? And New Zealand, has done a lot of work on this, for example, too.
But we also need them in for smallholder farmers in Africa, of course, you know each one of those farming systems that can be scaled up, then we need them for the commercial farmers. If we have these truly, totally worked out at scale prooving and as Mario said, with the metrics, that's what we actually need. Because, you know, investors don't like to invest in something that's just throwing money away with something it's a lot of talk right.
Shiulie Ghosh: So don’t we have all these research and information? Don’t we have enough data to hand over and say «Look at this, these are the results»?
Cynthia Rosenzweig: I think so. I do believe certainly for AGMIP we have and we're working on, and I have, I have one more point at the end, too, but Mario, what do you think I think from AGMIP website, yes, from you and the livestock world are there some viable, you know really dynamite case studies?
Mario Herrero: Some, some pilots. You know, the other pilot never fails, but the pilot never scales, some people say, we need to really make sure that you know some of the options are really scalable
Cynthia Rosenzweig: Add that criteria in. You see, that was never really a criteria in the studies in the pilots previously, but now that scale up has to be part of it.
Mario Herrero: Yeah but I think there are examples out there yeah.
Cynthia Rosenzweig: I want to make one more comment of where to which I think is very germane to the food system, which is that we need we need to not silo mitigation and adaptation.
So AGMIP has a program called Mitigation and Adaptation Co-benefits, and we are creating protocols, our pilot study is being done in Bangladesh right now and we're developing the models, so the models that have the emission side in it with the interventions, as well as the climate change scenarios and I totally agree. With the development pathways, the dietary pathways these scenarios that that we need to upgrade the scenarios that are used in these kinds of studies.
Absolutely. you know as, as you know, as GAIN is working on its climate change, bringing climate change into it's really fantastic nutrition programs having it be both mitigation and adaptation, because this is the reality it's as I started out by saying, climate change is happening already, we all know that.
But it really, truly is in all these agricultural regions, at the same time as we need to get every region every part has to be doing its part on mitigation as well.
Shiulie Ghosh: So, I want to wind up the discussion by asking both of our scientists what do you think is the single biggest actions that we need to see, all the single biggest commitments that we see from governments and policymakers?
Let me start with you, Mario what would make a massive difference?
Mario Herrero: Well, a massive difference to take a land based approach you know and really a really think of actions to really stop land use change would be a one of the biggest things that you could do, but in reality, I believe that you know, a everything within its context, and my biggest message would be that there's no real silver bullets, but what we need is really the agility to be able to combine and mix and match adaptation and mitigation options to solve the problems.
Shiulie Ghosh: Thank you, Mario and Cynthia what would your big action be?
Cynthia Rosenzweig: My big action is including funds for research in every single project.
This dovetail is with what Mario said, we have to be agile, we have to be flexible, we have to be able to learn what works. There's too many projects with there's like this normal metrics of evaluation of the project. No! it has to have researchers embedded into the projects and the end with the researchers studying how to scale up, what the finance will be, how to communicate with the national stakeholders and how to do the Trans boundary aspects so in the end this all has to be addressed at the same time.
You know just a thumbnail from of those projects that you write, you'd like a thumb, let's put a thumb of the of the of the research of the funds for learning and because we all have to learn how to learn and be flexible, so that we can solve it fast enough.
Shiulie Ghosh: Brilliant thank you! Thank you so much, and Jessica, I mean obviously from what we've been hearing it's great to hear the optimism enthusiasm and this is clearly going to help make a difference, but it's also clear, we must take decisive action and act now. What is GAIN’s message on what we can do to respond to climate change on nutrition and food security?
Jessica Colston: Yes, I think there are two things I'm taking away from this conversation.
The first is the science is loud and clear, I mean climate change is, and will have serious effects on nutrition. Whether that's through the adverse events, the floods, the droughts, the temperature changes, the reduction in yields, a reduction in quality of our food.
You know this is a really serious threat to nutrition and I think there needs to be a greater recognition of that across the board. And I think the second and to bring back some of that tone optimism is that you know, really, what we need is integrated action it's not two separate agendas climate and nutrition it's one integrated agenda where we need to see sustainable development that meets both climate and nutrition goals.
And I think we've heard you know about how nutrition organizations can respond, how the climate community can think about how to incorporate nutrition into their work in litigation and other station, and it goes beyond that. As we discussed it's about governments, businesses financial institutions all taking this integrated approach, where we need to see both action on climate and nutrition together. And I hope that everyone listening can reflect on that and perhaps try and bring that into their work, whatever it is that you do in relation to food, thank you.
Shiulie Ghosh: Jessica Thank you.
I think it's really clear that the climate change and nutrition are inextricably linked. And I want to say a big thank you to all of my guests for laying out the evidence the science so comprehensively and also looking at pathways about what we can do to mitigate some of those and adapt to some of those changes which are coming and Cynthia resistance like thank you. Mario Herrera, and Jessica Colston and, if you want to find out more about the work that GAIN is doing and latest news and events and a replay of this then just go to the website www.gainhealth.org
And you can follow us on Twitter we're at @GAINalliance.
Thank you very much, and I hope you join us again next time!