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People-centered resilience

Working with vulnerable farmers towards climate change adaptation and food security

Globally, 1.7 billion farmers are highly vulnerable to climate change impacts. The many who are already hungry are particularly vulnerable. World hunger currently stands at 1.02 billion people, its highest level ever. Yet scaling up localised ‘resilience’ successes offers hope for these farmers, while helping to address the climate problem. New thinking to recognize vulnerable farmers as critical partners in delivering solutions is needed to increase their resilience and to enable them to help combat climate change. Bold new public investment to the supporting institutions will be needed.

Achieving farm resilience requires building up the resilience of vulnerable farmers by developing their skills, expertise and voice while supporting their use of agro-ecological farming practices. Building resilience depends not just on how farmers manage resources, but on how well local, national, and global institutions support farmers. Agro-ecological practices can empower vulnerable small-scale farmers, offering them both greater control over their lives and an accessible means of improving their food security, while decreasing their risk of crop failure or livestock death due to climate shocks. Vulnerable farmers can use agro-ecological practices to build resilient farms and improve their livelihoods, achieving multiple benefits: 1. improved food security; 2. adaptation to a changing climate; and 3. mitigation of climate change.

People-centred resilience consists of five principles which should guide how investments in vulnerable farming communities are designed and implemented. They are:

  1. Restored and diversified natural resources for sustainability.
  2. Responsive institutions grounded in local context.
  3. Expanded and improved sustainable livelihood options.
  4. Sound gender dynamics and gender equality.
  5. Farmer-driven decisions.

Following these principles ensures that investments support farmers in their efforts to become food-secure and adapt to climate change. Four institutions central to delivering people-centered resilience are: secure land rights; dynamic farmer associations; responsive agricultural advisory services; and public support for environmental services.

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