The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), held a webinar entitled "International cooperation for disaster risk reduction (DRR) in agri-food systems" on the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (IDDRR) on 13 October. IDDRR is observed annually to reaffirm shared commitments to reduce risks and build resilience. This is more urgent now than ever as the frequency and intensity of disasters increases and their cascading impacts continue to affect people's lives, devastate their livelihoods, and jeopardize entire agri-food systems.
The day provides an opportunity to acknowledge and review the progress and efforts made globally towards achieving the "Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015‒2030" global targets by 2030. This year's IDDRR focused on the Sendai Framework Target F to "substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of the present framework by 2030." This target underlines the importance of international cooperation and partnerships to reduce disaster risk and disaster losses, within and across sectors, including in agri-food systems.
Why DRR matters in agri-food systems?
Agriculture continues to absorb a massive share of disasters**'** impacts. A recent FAO study revealed that agriculture bore 26 percent of the overall impact caused by medium- to large-scale disasters in least developed countries (LDCs) and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) between 2008 and 2018. In this period approximately USD 108.5 billion was lost as a result of declines in crop and livestock production in LDCs and LMICs. These losses convert to a total of 6.9 trillion kilocalories per year -- the annual calorie intake of 7 million adults. This demonstrates that the impacts of disasters extend beyond economic losses, as they destroy food crops and stores, as well as people's ability to produce and access food. Yet, these figures do not capture the enormous and unequal burden felt by smallholders and the most vulnerable. In this context, it is essential to produce the evidence base by consolidating capacity development efforts to measure and analyze disaster damage in agriculture to support action to reduce risks and mitigate their impacts.
In his opening remarks, Mr Laurent Thomas, FAO's Deputy Director-General, emphasized that, "despite bearing a disproportionate share of disaster and climate impacts, agriculture is often underfunded. Between 2004 and 2016, only 3 percent out of the total official development assistance (ODA) to developing countries and countries in transition was directed to agriculture-related measures within disaster risk reduction and management." He underscored the urgent need to transform agri-food systems to make them more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable, if we are to end hunger by 2030. He added that "these ambitions and commitments lie at the heart FAO's new Strategic Framework (2022‒2031) to support its members by working closely with partners in ensuring a better production, better nutrition, better environment and a better life for all -- in order to leave no one behind!" In this regard, international cooperation for risk reduction and resilience building is key.
Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of UNDRR, Ms Mami Mizutori, warned that investment in prevention remains insufficient, which is undermining efforts to build long-term resilience. She highlighted that of the "overall aid financing between 2010 and 2019, the USD 5.5 billion spent on DRR accounts for just 0.5 percent of the total amount spent on international aid." She added that "there is an urgent need to strengthen international cooperation as investments in disaster prevention and risk reduction are not keeping pace with the exponential rise in disaster events."
One of the key findings of UNDRR's new report, entitled "International Cooperation in Disaster Risk Reduction, is that disaster-related international financing is predominantly biased towards responding to disasters. For every USD 100 spent on disaster-related ODA, only 50 cents are invested in protecting development from the impact of disasters. The report concluded that ODA should be better targeted to address multi-dimensional vulnerability of populations, particularly in agri-food systems.
FAO's and partners' efforts to deliver on disaster risk reduction and climate actions were highlighted and recognized in the event. This includes FAO's capacity development support to countries implementing the Sendai Framework for DRR in agri-food systems on the ground. The webinar also aimed to increase awareness of the global and regional impact of disasters and crises on agriculture and food security, which were shared by FAO's staff from the Office of Emergencies and Resilience, Regional Offices for Latin America and the Caribbean and Europe and Central Asia.
The event featured the support that FAO has provided to developing countries in applying and institutionalizing FAO's damage and loss assessment (D&L) methodology, which is utilised to monitor the Sendai Framework's Indicator C2: direct agricultural loss attributed to disasters. It also presented key successes, including the importance of existing databases/platforms for data management to facilitate the design of the damage and loss systems for the agriculture sector in which sectoral and inter-sectoral partnerships and coordination is key. Moreover, discussions were held on the way forward to strengthen data collection and analysis as well as reporting and monitoring, including through international cooperation. The challenges that still lie ahead were also shared. These include government's ownership and commitment; adequate legislative and policy frameworks and inter-ministerial cooperation; the inclusion of damage and loss into regular agricultural censuses; and the linking of disaster damage and losses to the Warsaw International Mechanism on loss and damage of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In this regard, FAO is currently collaborating with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and University of Kassel to complement the FAO's D&L methodology to attribute losses and damages caused by extreme events to anthropogenic climate change.
The experiences of countries in international cooperation in DRR, including in agri-food systems, were highlighted in the webinar. For example, Germany promoted a comprehensive risk management approach that combined instruments of disaster risk management, climate change adaptation, climate protection and social protection. Furthermore, Mongolia's experience in disaster impact assessment and monitoring and early warning early action systems, with the technical support from FAO and partners, was showcased.
The importance of international cooperation was emphasized to further support the establishment of an integrated damage and loss data management system in Mongolia and to help the country access climate funds to implement climate resilient projects aimed at improving pasture and crop land tenure security to promote sustainable uses of land resources.
The event reminded participants that disaster risks can be reduced and managed. Hazardous events do not need to devolve into full-blown disasters if a risk-informed approach is fully integrated into development and humanitarian activities. International cooperation has an important role to play. We can do this together by providing dedicated and well-targeted DRR interventions, including in agri-food systems and in complex emergency settings. Scaling up DRR in humanitarian actions and sustaining peace interventions is key. Funding provided by resource partners should be flexible enough to fulfill emergency needs, while also sustainable to address the long-term resilience agenda. International cooperation for DRR encompasses supporting the efforts of developing countries to strengthen their governance and systems for risk reduction. This refers to the provision of systematic and coordinated international support on DRR and related technical and financial assistance, including policy development and implementation, capacity development, awareness raising, knowledge sharing, technology transfer, and resource mobilization for DRR activities and programmes, through bilateral and multilateral channels, as per countries' priorities and needs.
The webinar recording and other resources are available here.