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Relentless pursuit of an equitable world

The Optimist

Agriculture


Our best means for reducing poverty faces the realities of climate change

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2019 Progress


History shows that nothing beats agriculture when it comes to reducing poverty and hunger. But the climate crisis is robbing countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia of this opportunity. Farmers there could see the number of days available to grow crops shrink by 20% and millions of hectares become too dry to cultivate effectively. New innovations that allow smallholder farmers to adapt to the most extreme conditions are vital if the world is going to achieve its goals of ending extreme poverty and hunger by 2030. That’s why, this year, the foundation helped build a global alliance to support such efforts. The Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA)—co-chaired by Bill Gates—led calls for urgent action to support climate-focused initiatives and research through CGIAR, a global research partnership dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources. And at September’s UN Climate Action Summit in New York, a coalition of donors pledged $650 million, including $310 million from the foundation, to empower 300 million small, family farmers with a host of new inventions and interventions, such as crop varieties that can handle heat, drought or flooding.

—Laura Birx
Deputy Director, Strategy, Planning and Management, Agricultural Development



Goalkeepers 2019: Amanda De Souza

 

 

20 Potential percentage increase (or more) in food prices for the poorest communities in sub-Saharan Africa

820M Number of people affected by hunger worldwide–the highest number seen since 2010

300M Number of small, family farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to receive innovations to help adapt to climate change

 

 

In case you missed it


Farmer in a field with maize

 

You’ve probably never heard of CGIAR, but they are essential to feeding our future

What’s for dinner?

It’s a question asked every day in homes around the world. No other organization has done as much to ensure families—especially the poorest—have an answer to that question as CGIAR, the world’s largest global agricultural research organization.

More than 50 years ago, CGIAR’s research into high-yielding, disease-resistant rice and wheat launched the Green Revolution, saving more than a billion people from starvation. In the years since then, their work on everything from livestock and potatoes to rice and maize has helped reduce poverty, increase food security, and improve nutrition.

Read more on Gates Notes ›

 

 

2019 in Tweets



 

 

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What's Next?


Agriculture is a vital driver of prosperity and abundance. And the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) has designated 2020 the Year of Action. Already, more than 75 national governments, multilateral banks, civil society organizations and private sector companies have signed up to support an ambitious agenda to accelerate and scale innovations for farming communities vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Efforts will conclude at a Climate Adaptation Summit hosted by the Netherlands in October where significant new funding commitments are expected to further support CGIAR’s research. Next year is also a critical moment for the world if it is to achieve the second Sustainable Development Goal: end hunger, achieve food security and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030. Data showing that hunger levels are at their highest for a decade—after years of steady decline—has sounded the alarm that SDG2 is in jeopardy. So, the foundation will lead efforts to ensure agricultural development and smallholder farmers are at the forefront of efforts to get back on track. Discussions are already underway for a major international convening. Our hope is that this will consolidate the global alliance around new investments in key institutions, such CGIAR research centers and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), and a common agenda for making SDG2 an urgent priority. Our vision is an inclusive agricultural transformation led by smallholder farmers who are empowered with the know-how, infrastructure, technical support, and latest technologies to improve their livelihoods, lift their families out of poverty, and contribute to a sustainable global food system.

—Laura Birx
Deputy Director, Strategy, Planning and Management, Agricultural Development