Climate adaptation in the agrifood system
Who we are
This webtool was developed by Soonho Kim, Nicola Cenacchi, the IMPACT modeling team at IFPRI (Keith Wiebe, Tim Sulser and Shahnila Dunston) and the Food Security Portal team (Rob Vos, Betina Dimaranan, Brendan Rice, and Sara Gustafson). For any comments or feedback please contact Soonho Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The effects of climate change are already being felt, and they are projected to worsen in the course of the 21st century, with impacts varying by region. Adaptation is critical to continue pursuing sustainable development goals (SDGs), including on fighting poverty (SDG1), hunger (SDG2), and managing water resources (SDG6).
Estimating the impacts of a changing climate on the agriculture sector, and the corresponding adaptation costs, is a complex exercise. It is reflected by the variety of approaches used for costs-calculation, and the differing magnitude of results. In 2009, IFPRI published a study on the costs of selected agricultural investments to offset the adverse impacts of climate change, as proxied by levels of childhood undernutrition. The study illustrated in these pages, published in 2021 and cited in the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report in 2022, is an update of the 2009 exercise. It uses scenario analysis to explore the potential of different investment options to offset the impacts of climate change out to the year 2050. The impacts of climate change as well as the adaptation potential, are measured in terms of number of people at risk of chronic hunger. The cost of the different options is described in the Food Policy Report (follow “Explore the report” on the left bar), and the Key Findings section below summarizes the cost numbers.
The study estimates the degree to which investments in agricultural R&D, water management, and infrastructure may offset the impacts of climate change, and help reach the goal of zero hunger. It also builds on recent methodologies to assess the corresponding costs of each intervention across the developing world.
Climate change slows progress in reducing hunger
Projections show that climate change is going to slow progress in reducing hunger to 2050, especially in Africa south of the Sahara.
Boosting agricultural R&D (Research & Development)
Among the adaptation investment options, boosting agricultural R&D (Research & Development) is the most cost-effective option. It would require US$1.97 billion in annual incremental investment to offset the impacts of climate change on hunger levels.
Water management and rural infrastructure
Increased investment of US$13 billion for water management, and US$11 billion for rural infrastructure are essential to complement and sustain R&D-based gains, especially over the longer term.
Alternative investment options
Alternative investment options offer a different mix of possibilities and trade-offs: R&D investments may offer the largest reductions in hunger, while investing in water management provides higher likelihood of long-term reliability of irrigation supply. Investments that combine all options can have larger positive effects for multiple goals, but at a higher cost.
Investment Options Scenarios
We gratefully acknowledge our partners for their funding in support of the Tool pages within the Food Security Portal