This resource was made for the last round of NDCs (2020-2021) but will soon be updated for the 2025 NDC moment. Subscribe here to stay updated.

Climate change impacts food production in many regions of the world, including in the form of lost crops and dwindling employment opportunities. These impacts are likely to become increasingly severe by 2030 and beyond, placing global food security and the livelihoods of hundreds of millions at risk. At the same time, the agriculture sector is the second-largest source of GHG emissions globally. Given these synergistic opportunities for large-scale improvement, now is the time to act.

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Opportunities within the Agriculture Sector

There are many opportunities to enhance NDCs through strengthened actions in the agriculture sector. Importantly, these actions can achieve many concurrent benefits: reduced GHG emissions, improved resilience, enhanced adaptation, and better outcomes for farmers and livelihoods.

Better crop management can increase crop yields and help farmers cope with environmental constraints, including a changing climate
Better livestock management (i.e., better feed, animal health care and breeding) can support higher ruminant productivity and hence the livelihoods and resilience of livestock producers.
Broader land management including improving pastures for grazing, deploying enhanced soil, water and agroecological practices, reducing use of fire as a management strategy, and supporting improved soil fertility can achieve local and global benefits.
More sustainable production and consumption measures such as reduced food loss and waste and shifts to healthier and more sustainable diets can unlock both environmental and economic advantages.

These actions are not exhaustive but rather illustrative of the range of possibilities that exist in the agriculture sector and that can be incorporated into enhanced NDCs.

It is also important to note here that the number of people facing acute hunger globally is projected to potentially double because of the COVID-19 crisis. Accordingly, ensuring food security and building a resilient agriculture system are critical. As COVID recovery takes shape and as countries develop their NDCs, a number of actions involving agriculture and land-use can boost economies and rural livelihoods, play an important role in bolstering resilience, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ultimately enabling our global society to build back better.

Read: NDC Enhancement and COVID-19 Recovery: Building Blocks for a Sustainable Future

Why the Agriculture Sector Matters to COVID Recovery

Ensuring food security and building a resilient agriculture system are critical, with the number of people facing acute hunger globally projected to potentially double because of the COVID crisis. As COVID recovery takes shape and as countries develop their NDCs, a number of actions involving agriculture and land-use can boost economies and rural livelihoods, play an important role in bolstering resilience, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ultimately enabling our global society to build back better.

Key opportunities involving agriculture, land-use and rural livelihoods include:

  • Advancing reforestation and afforestation and promoting practices that integrate agriculture and forestry together in rural areas (this not only helps sequester carbon but also provides significant opportunities for employment in rural areas);
  • Supporting crop management and agricultural practices to help farmers achieve better, more sustainable yields;
  • Improving livestock management (i.e., better feed, animal health care and breeding) to support the livelihoods and resilience of livestock producers; and
  • Building social protection and insurance programs that support sustainable farming practices.

Recovery plans could provide investment and jobs in rural areas for restoration of forests and agricultural lands, including agroforestry and silvo-pastoral approaches. Stimulus plans could also support farmers to increase crop yields and livestock productivity through sustainable practices. NDCs can incorporate targets, based on emissions sequestered or hectares restored, for forest and agricultural lands restoration.

Ultimately, these types of interventions can boost employment and livelihoods for rural communities, strengthen food security and provide important climate mitigation benefits.

Ways to Enhance Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in the Agriculture Sector

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Countries can strengthen or add:

  • Economy-wide GHG targets reflecting more ambitious abatement options in the agriculture sector.
  • Ambitious GHG targets for the agriculture sector (e.g., reduce agriculture GHG emissions by a certain percentage from a base year by 2030).
  • Quantitative non-GHG targets for the agriculture sector, such as:
    • Targets for better crop management (e.g., improved crop breeding, improved irrigation services, better crop insurance and increased hectares of agroforestry).
    • Targets for better livestock management (e.g., improved livestock productivity).
    • Targets for land management (e.g., installing renewable energy on farms, eliminating burning of agricultural residue and avoiding deforestation).
    • Targets for more sustainable production and consumption measures (e.g., food loss and waste targets and nutrition targets).
  • Agriculture-related policies and actions, such as:
    • Improving extension services for farmers, including more widespread use of digital services such as early warnings and seasonal forecasts.
    • Redirecting agricultural support to improve agricultural resilience and reduce emissions.
    • Instilling safeguard measures and rights-based approaches to minimize harms.

Agriculture Sector in First Round NDCs

The following figure exhibits the number of first round NDCs that include key policies/measures and targets. Most NDCs identify agriculture as a key sector for action, both in terms of mitigation and adaptation, but few include quantified, sector-specific targets.

Additional resources on climate action within the agriculture sector