About this site:

The purpose of this site is to gather content — including blogs, research outputs and project updates —from the research and work on climate change at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). IFPRI researchers and their many partners and collaborators seek to assist small-scale farmers to find ways to sustainably adapt to and build resilience toward a changing climate. The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) funds much of the climate-related work at IFPRI, which spans the globe from Latin America, Africa, to South and South East Asia. Read more

Most recent updates

For climate change, the American farmer is the sleeping giant

September 14, 2017

By Timothy Thomas

The most recent National Climate Assessment found that temperatures across the United States have already risen by more than 1 degree on average due to climate change. So, if we’re already feeling the effects of climate change, why do so many Americans remain skeptical of it? Part of the reason may be that while the national average changed, many parts of the country had little or no change.

American corn farmers are one such group that remains skeptical of climate change and largely unharmed by it so far. A 2013 Iowa State University survey of farmers in the Corn Belt—the middle part of the country, from the middle of Texas to the Appalachian mountains—found only 8 percent attributed climate change mostly to human activity, compared with 27 percent of the general population.

Read More..

Policy Note on Climate Change, Gender and Nutrition Linkages – Research Priorities for Bangladesh

August 18, 2017

Climate change, coupled with high levels of poverty and population density, is a substantial threat to sustainable development in Bangladesh. Climate-related threats, such as flooding, inundation, salt-water intrusion, and changes in temperatures are increasing with climate change. Achieving the goals of Feed the Future and the Global Food Security Strategy requires careful consideration of the impact of relevant climate science on agricultural production, while at the same time considering other cross-cutting issues that influence agricultural growth, poverty alleviation, and resilience—especially gender and nutrition. This policy note summarizes assessments of these linkages in Bangladesh under GCAN.

Research Priorities for Bangladesh - Policy Note

Policy note on the interlinkages of Climate Change, Gender and Nutrition in Nigeria

August 16, 2017

Increasing temperature, erratic rainfall, and other extreme events, such as floods and droughts, pose severe threats to development in Nigeria. Climate change will have significant adverse impacts on crop production and livelihoods, making the country’s poor and disadvantaged people even more vulnerable. It is imperative that the impact of relevant climate science on agricultural production be considered, together with important cross-cutting issues that influence agricultural growth, poverty alleviation, and climate resilience—especially gender and nutrition—if the goals of Feed the Future and the Global Food Security Strategy are to be achieved. This policy note summarizes assessments of these inter linkages in the Nigerian context under Gender, Climate Change and Nutrition Integration Initiative (GCAN).

GCAN Policy Note - Nigeria

Climate change and variability: What are the risks for nutrition, diets, and food systems?

August 15, 2017

CCAFS is testing new survey tools to uncover how climate information impacts farmers' livelihoods. Photo: V. Reddy.

By Jessica Fanzo, Rebecca McLaren, Claire Davis, and Jowel Choufani

The paper uses a food systems approach to analyze the bidirectional relationships between climate change and food and nutrition along the entire food value chain. It then identifies adaptation and mitigation interventions for each step of the food value chain to move toward a more climate-smart, nutrition-sensitive food system. The study focuses on poor rural farmers, a population especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change on nutrition, although we recognize that there are other vulnerable populations, including urban poor and rural populations working outside of agriculture. Although this report does not explicitly exclude overweight and obesity, it focuses primarily on undernutrition because this nutritional status is currently more prevalent than overnutrition among our target population.

Read More.. 

Jessica Fanzo (jfanzo1@jhu.edu) is the Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor of Ethics and Global Food & Agriculture at the Berman Institute, the School of Advanced International Studies, and the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins. Jessica also serves as director of the Global Food Ethics and Policy Program. Rebecca McLaren (rmclare2@jhmi.edu) and Claire Davis (cdavis74@jhu.edu)  are senior research program coordinator and research program coordinator, respectively, in the Global Food Ethics and Policy Program of the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA. Jowel Choufani (j.choufani@cgiar.org) is a senior research assistant in the Environment and Production Technology Division of the International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC, USA.

Climate-Based Information for USAID Missions: Future Projections vs. Historical Data

July 25, 2017

Areas in Nigeria with Statistically Significant Trends in Annual Rainfall, 1980-2010, in millimeters

By Timothy S. Thomas

Most scientists studying the impact of climate change on agriculture use climate models that project out to 2050 or beyond – some even going to 2100. Even those focusing more short-term rarely study anything earlier than 2030 – the models just have too little change in that time period for them to produce anything of interest. These climate studies can be of significant help to USAID missions when working with host governments in developing longer-range investment plans in the agricultural and environmental sectors, and can also be of help in assessing climate risk in activities that are meant to have impact for multiple decades.

Yet many climate risk assessments for USAID activities need to assess climate impacts for just a few years into the future, for example, just until the early 2020s. For those assessments, typical climate models and studies are not helpful. In such cases, missions would be better served by looking at climate trends from gridded weather data available from a number of sources.

Read More

Timothy S. Thomas is a Senior Research Fellow at the Environment and Production Technology Division. 

This post first appeared on the Gender, Climate Change, and Nutrition Integration Initiative (GCAN) blog.

Policy Note on Research Priorities for Zambia

July 15, 2017

Climate change is a substantial threat to sustainable development in Zambia, a country experiencing weather hazards, drought and dry spells, seasonal and flash floods, and extreme temperatures that may well increase under climate change. Achieving the goals of Feed the Future and the Global Food Security Strategy requires careful consideration of the impact of relevant climate science on agricultural production, while at the same time considering other cross-cutting issues that influence agriculture-led poverty alleviation, resilience, and nutrition—such as gender. This policy note summarizes assessments of these linkages for Zambia under GCAN.

Research Priorities for Zambia - GCAN policy note

Charting gender issues in agricultural development research under climate change

July 11, 2017

By Elizabeth Bryan

Agricultural development policies and interventions that ignore gender dynamics miss opportunities to maximize benefits, including increasing resilience to climate change and variability. As more policy-makers and development practitioners acknowledge the importance of addressing gender in their work, they can draw on a growing body of research that highlights key entry points for more effectively integrating gender.

A new article in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, “Addressing gender in agricultural research for development in the face of a changing climate,” summarizes key research on gender and climate change conducted under the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS). This work, which draws on different data sources and methodologies, shows that women’s contribution to increasing climate resilience is limited by several important factors: A lack of access to information; formal and informal institutions that limit women’s response options; a lack of access to natural and productive resources; and limited decision-making authority, among other constraints.

Studies across a range of sites have consistently identified these broad barriers, but the extent to which specific factors hinder women’s involvement in climate-smart agriculture (CSA) depends largely on the local context. This new research provides guidance on the key factors that should be considered in the context of a particular region or project, including gender differences in access to information and technology, perceptions of climate risks, and preferences for responding to climate changes and threats.

The study also highlights several remaining research gaps and identifies areas for future study and potential approaches.

First, while there is now information on gendered preferences for CSA practices and improved understanding of the causes of gender differentials in the capacity to respond to climate risks, the distribution of costs and benefits of different CSA practices among members of the same household remain under-studied. Second, there is insufficient information on the potential outcomes from women’s engagement in climate resilience programs. Third, while we understand many of the barriers to access and adoption of climate-smart options that meet women’s needs, challenges remain on how to cost-effectively overcome these across varying local contexts.

Gaining insight into these questions will require rigorous qualitative work that grounds quantitative data within local contexts, action research that promotes joint learning between researchers and the communities in which they work, and new methods for collecting data over longer periods of time (such as ICT-based survey tools) in order to track changes in outcomes for men and women.

Ultimately, promoting gender-transformative, climate-smart solutions not only increases the likelihood of achieving positive gender-related outcomes, but also of reducing poverty and increasing sustainability. Achieving these goals requires greater collaboration between and among research organizations and implementing partners to share knowledge, tools, and approaches. It also requires building capacity on gender within key organizations, such as government agencies, as other recent CCAFS supported research has shown. Only then will future programs, projects, and investments adequately address climate change concerns while meeting the needs women and other vulnerable segments of society. Better integrating research and practice, and designing information, tools, practices, interventions, and M&E strategies with gender in mind can accelerate progress towards achieving many development objectives, while enabling women to become agents of their own empowerment.

Elizabeth Bryan is a Senior Research Analyst in IFPRI's Environment and Production Technology Division.

The challenge of our lifetime: How to ensure nutrition for everyone under climate change

June 16, 2017

By Claire Davis and Jessica Fanzo

Going through the market. Photo Michael Foley.

The connections between climate change, the global food system, and nutrition are woefully under-acknowledged. Yet the agriculture-food system is particularly vulnerable to climate change. For many regions, especially in the global South, it will be more and more difficult to produce enough nutritious, safe food for everyone in the future. This relationship is complex: climate change threatens our ability to feed a growing planet, but the food system also contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

A new IFPRI discussion paper, “Climate Change and Variability: What are the Risks for Nutrition, Diets, and Food Systems?”, examines these connections in order to provide an overview of the existing research landscape. The paper uses a food systems approach as it analyzes the bidirectional relationship between food and climate along every step of the food value chain, from a farmer’s seed supply to a consumer having a meal.

The greatest effects of climate change are being felt in the Southern Hemisphere, impinging upon livelihoods, mobility, health, education, and food systems. Moving forward, as planetary warming progresses, populations in the global South will continue to face the most significant consequences of a changing climate. They are often the least able to adapt to its effects, especially the rural poor in South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara.

Climate change is already affecting the food system. Reductions in yields have already been seen in some crops, such as rice and maize. By 2050, people may be forced to eat fewer fruits, vegetables, and red meat products because their availability may decline and prices may rise in response to climate change. Access to food may also be limited by climate-related vulnerabilities in transportation, storage, and processing.

The food system is not simply a victim of climate change; on the contrary, it is also a driver of climate change, contributing between 19 and 29 percent of GHG emissions worldwide. If current dietary trends continue, especially the growing preference for animal source foods as economies develop, there could be an 80 percent increase in GHG emissions from food production and associated land clearing by 2050. The challenge is to ensure everyone has enough nutritious food to eat, but to do it in a way that also protects our planet.

Climate change impacts every stage of the food value chain, with potentially adverse effects on nutrition for everyone. Women, children, and poor, rural populations will be most vulnerable to these changes. Without action, it is likely that global food production will decline by 2 percent every decade until at least 2050, just as the world’s population is expected to reach 9.7 billion people. As food becomes increasingly difficult to produce and access, prices will increase and nutritious foods will become too costly for many at-risk populations. Food safety will also be threatened by pests, diseases, and a lack of refrigeration.

Dietary changes in response to climate change will also result in a worsening of malnutrition in many places. These changes carry weighty consequences that last well beyond the individual who directly experiences food shortages or changes in diet: Future generations may be born undernourished and experience reduced growth as children, diminishing their ability to reach their full developmental and cognitive potential. Undernutrition in childhood can also predispose individuals to other health issues, including non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, in the future. These intergenerational effects have far-reaching consequences for communities around the world.

But these negative outcomes are not inevitable. Mitigation and adaptation strategies can incorporate nutrition-sensitive, climate-smart approaches. These interventions are needed most in the global South, where the effects of climate change will be the most severe but the resources to adapt are the most limited. Food chain interventions, such as improving irrigation or drying foods to limit the need for cold storage, are crucial, in addition to broader interventions like women’s empowerment and rural development.

By the end of the Marrakech Climate Change Conference (COP 22) last November, $23 million had been pledged for technical assistance and capacity building for developing countries in various sectors, including agriculture. This is an important step forward, but more evidence-based research and action are needed. The ramifications of climate change on human health are vast. To address these, governments, NGOs, and the private sector will need to work together and improve nutrition in a climate-smart way that protects the health of people and the planet.

Claire Davis (cdavis74@jhu.edu) is a Research Program Coordinator in the Global Food Ethics and Policy Program of the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University. Jessica Fanzo (jfanzo1@jhu.edu) is the Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor of Ethics and Global Food & Agriculture at the Berman Institute, the School of Advanced International Studies, and the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins. Jessica also serves as director of the Global Food Ethics and Policy Program. This post first appeared on the Gender, Climate Change, and Nutrition Integration Initiative (GCAN) blog.

A new path to policy: Colombia’s participatory climate leadership

June 14, 2017

By Alex De Pinto

President Donald Trump’s announcement that the United States will withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, has cast the accord’s ultimate effectiveness into doubt. Nevertheless, the deal has pushed countries to devise innovative methods for limiting their own carbon emissions. An assessment of IFPRI’s contribution to shaping Colombia’s path to meet its Paris targets provides useful lessons on incorporating research into policy-making.

To reach the Paris goal of holding a rise in global temperatures under 2 degrees Celsius, countries worldwide submitted commitments to reduce emissions, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Colombia confronted this challenge by creating a novel and inclusive process that brought together policy makers, researchers, and the private sector to inform policy goals.

Working closely with the end-users of the policy, Colombia’s Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development (known by its Spanish acronym MADS), together with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), played a convening or “boundary organization” role and created a space where open and frank dialogues could be held. This was essential to foster an interactive platform for stakeholders where a common understanding of the issue could be formed. A diverse set of actors from academic, governmental, and private-sector backgrounds convened to look at ways to reduce emissions in Colombia’s agriculture, forestry and land use sectors.  This process broke down policy barriers from the start, allowing Policy-Oriented Research (POR) to equip decision makers with useful, actionable information.

The government of Colombia committed to a baseline for emissions through 2050. To guide stakeholders to meet that target, IFPRI and the Universidad de los Andes simultaneously conducted independent analyses on Colombia’s emissions data. Both partners crafted robust emissions reduction goals, based on varying scenarios in which Colombia improved its land use policies and reduced deforestation.

This interdisciplinary policy process was well-informed and ambitious because of sustained engagement with stakeholders, the strong presence of an institutional convening force, and flexible research-related resources provided throughout. The process revealed some key elements for effective future POR:

  1. Sustained consultations and openness. Colombia’s decision to maintain an open and participatory process allowed for the right policy questions to be asked, always in keeping with end users’ best interests. By framing climate issues with inputs from multiple institutions and stakeholders, the process incorporated flexibility in methods and approaches for tackling emissions reductions. Creating a “web of relationships” allowed for more comprehensive knowledge-building.
  2. Usable science and willingness to break disciplinary and institutional barriers. The ministries, institutions and individuals that took part in the research built a significant amount of mutual trust, creating a platform for long-term collaboration and lending the findings legitimacy among the partners. This admittedly time-intensive process allowed for “silos” to be broken down, and traditional sector barriers to be overcome, producing usable information for all.
  3. A champion for the project. The commitment from MADS to act as the champion of the research provided a guiding force to the process. It strengthened the ministry’s leadership role and cemented connections with partner institutions.
  4. Flexibility in the availability of resources. Due to the complex nature of the POR process, the flexibility that Colombia demonstrated was key to success. Allowing for sufficient funds, staff, and time allowed for a robust and informed dialogue to take place between institutions and end users, based on comprehensive analysis.

The POR process is not yet perfect; there is still fine-tuning to be done to ensure the integrity of data choices and explore the effects of participants’ assumptions. Nonetheless, the process proved a success in Colombia, ending with well-informed and usable policy research that guided the country forward on its climate goals.

NDCs often provide an insight into a country’s vision to promote transformative actions that address multiple, long-term social, economic and environmental issues. Colombia committed to a significant pledge (PDF), working toward a 20 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2030, while pursuing set economic development targets. These ambitious goals have made Colombia a leader among countries acting to mitigate climate change. Now the country can move forward on a path of climate leadership knowing that its plans are achievable, and set its sights on global goals.

Alex De Pinto is a Senior Research Fellow in IFPRI’s Environment and Production Technology Division. For more information, read "Informing climate policy through institutional collaboration: reflections on the preparation of Colombia’s nationally determined contribution," published in the Journal of Climate Policy.

How to ensure nutrition for everyone under climate change and variability

May 15, 2017

By Jessica Fanzo, Rebecca McLaren, Claire Davis, and Jowel Choufani

The intersection of climate change, food security, and nutrition is critical given that the growing adverse impacts of climate change threaten food security and nutrition outcomes, especially for the most vulnerable in the global South. Climate is a potential driver of nutritional status, but dietary choices can affect both nutrition and climate. A better understanding of the pathways linking climate change and nutrition is key to developing effective interventions to ensure that the world’s population has access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. Undernutrition can be exacerbated by the effects of climate change at all stages of the food value chain. In addition, disease is affected by climate and can, in turn, increase the demand
for nutrients, while reducing nutrient absorption.

Read more

Jessica Fanzo (jfanzo1@jhu.edu) is the Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor of Ethics and Global Food & Agriculture at the Berman Institute, the School of Advanced International Studies, and the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins. Jessica also serves as director of the Global Food Ethics and Policy Program. Rebecca McLaren (rmclare2@jhmi.edu) and Claire Davis (cdavis74@jhu.edu)  are senior research program coordinator and research program coordinator, respectively, in the Global Food Ethics and Policy Program of the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA. Jowel Choufani (j.choufani@cgiar.org) is a senior research assistant in the Environment and Production Technology Division of the International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC, USA.

This policy note first appeared on the Gender, Climate Change, and Nutrition Integration Initiative (GCAN) blog.

More updates