– Akshita Mehta
The impacts of climate change include more extreme weather and natural disasters, chronic drought and economic instability. To match the urgency of this crisis, we’re deploying innovative solutions that maximize nature’s ability to fight climate change while bolstering resilience for our most precious ecosystems and vulnerable communities.
Sea levels are rising, deserts are growing and farmable land is shrinking. There is too much or too little rain. Floods, storms and droughts destroy land and livestock. For poor families, even small weather fluctuations can be catastrophic. Subsistence farmers lose their source of food and income. Children are pulled out of school to save money. Entire towns lose their livelihoods or even their lives. People resort to drastic measures to survive, like eating less or low-quality food or selling the very things they rely on, like animals, equipment and land.
Image source: vikalpsangam.org
1. Forecast-Based Financing
Forecast-based financing, i.e. the financing of aid measures based on climate forecasts, is a fancy way of saying: the earlier WFP responds to a risk, the better and more effective the response is. For example, in the event of a flood, food and farming equipment needs to be stored in a safe place. If forecasts indicate that a flood is likely, the food and equipment can be moved even before the rain begins. This reduces both the cost of aid and the negative impacts of the event.
Preparing for a climate disaster ahead of time has a bigger and better impact on families than waiting for a disaster to strike. In fact, for every dollar invested in disaster prevention and risk management, WFP saves up to four dollars in disaster-response aid.
90% of all natural disasters come in the form of floods, storms or droughts. But for most people in poor, rural communities, there’s no such thing as homeowners insurance. WFP is changing that. The R4 Rural Resilience Initiative — or R4 — provides climate risk insurance to small-scale farmers in exchange for their participation in building community assets.
It works like this: Participants work on projects like roads, dams or irrigation systems, which help minimize the damage from extreme weather. Their insurance policy becomes active, and the insurer carries the risk for weather-related damages. Once people know they are protected against loss, they can invest in seeds, fertilizers or new technologies, which increase their productivity. Increased productivity and security allow participants to build savings. This not only strengthens their resilience against climate shocks, but in the event of illness or death, families are no longer dependent on outside help.
In 2018, WFP insured 6,000 farmers across six African countries, reaching a value of $10.3 million dollars.
3. Sustainable Farming
Sustainable farming means producing food, fibre, plant or animal products without harming natural resources and land and considering social responsibilities such as working and living conditions of farmers and workers, the needs of rural communities, and health and safety of the consumer both in the present and the future.
Sustainable farming or sustainable agriculture helps the farmers innovate and employ recycling methods, apart from the conventional perks of farming. A very good example of recycling in sustainable farming would be crop waste or animal manure. The same can be transformed into fertilizers that can help enrich the soil. WFP helps increase communities’ knowledge about these techniques, like how to use fewer chemicals, plant drought-resistant crops, store water and rotate fields. Farmers learn how to protect their land from extreme weather and use resources in a sustainable manner, which can improve productivity, biodiversity and families’ health.
4. Better Packaging
Packaging is an inevitable part of WFP’s work. Delivering food to millions of people around the world requires millions of boxes, bags and jugs. In order to reduce the environmental impact of all those containers, WFP focuses on the three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle. For example, WFP has adjusted its packaging to fit more food in smaller containers and limited the use of package colors to reduce the use of ink. WFP also designs its packaging from the beginning with reuse in mind. Many of the tins, cartons and packets get second lives as toys, building materials and housewares.
5. Foods to Prevent Environmental Degradation
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the degradation of natural resources is an inevitable consequence of the influx of many people to the same place. Today, 80% of all hungry people live in places that are highly prone to extreme weather, so we can expect more and more people to move to new places because of natural disasters. Host communities are often overwhelmed by the needs of so many incoming people. Additionally, when newcomers have limited knowledge of local foods or how best to use them, it can result in environmental harm. So, when WFP provides food, shelter and cooking supplies to migrants and refugees, they can satisfy their nutritional needs without damaging the environment. In this way, food distribution indirectly prevents environmental degradation.
6. Promoting Local Producers
Supporting local food systems has an array of benefits: it can strengthen local economies and communities, aid local small-scale farmers, preserve open spaces, benefit the environment and help ensure community farms. WFP has turned its vast food needs into a benefit for local food producers. WFP uses its purchasing power to connect small producers with regional markets through several programs: Purchase for Progress, Farm-to-Market Alliance and Home Grown School Feeding. Each of these initiatives has numerous environmental benefits that come from the same basic principle. Volunteering at a local farm can enable you to learn more about your local agriculturalist and the work they do every day, while building lasting relationships and giving back to your local food system. There are international organizations—such as Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)—that facilitate volunteering on sustainable farms, as well as social activism organizations—such as DoSomething—that provide volunteering opportunities. Alternatively, speak to the farmers at your local market to find an outfit in need of assistance.
Image source: assets.rebelmouse.io
7. Buy Energy-Efficient Products
Replace traditional bulbs with CFLs and LEDs. They use fewer watts of electricity and last longer. If millions of people across the globe use LEDs and CFLs for residential and commercial purposes, the demand for energy can go down, and an energy crisis can be averted. Preset lighting controls, slide lighting, touch dimmers, integrated lighting controls are few of the lighting controls that can help to conserve energy.
8. Move towards Renewable Resources
The best possible solution is to reduce the world’s dependence on non-renewable resources and to improve overall conservation efforts. Much of the industrial age was created using fossil fuels, but there is also known technology that uses other types of renewable energies – such as steam, solar, and wind.
Image source: reurasia.com
9. Perform Energy Audit
An energy audit can help you establish what the specific areas where you are losing the most energy in your home are. Also, this process can suggest some steps that can help you improve your energy efficiency.
10. Go Vegan
Shifting to vegan diets can lower gas emissions much more quickly than shifting away from the fossil fuel burning technologies which emit carbon dioxide. Such a shift from meat would get rid of most farm animals, resulting in an almost immediate drop in methane emissions, which is also more efficient than the turnover rate for cars and power plants, which could take decades.
Locally, more communities are seeing beyond the recycle bin, and recognizing that how the community uses their local resources is important too. More community gardens, parks, and farmer’s markets are springing up not only as a means of introducing more sustainable elements into people’s life but as an essential part of educating the public about the importance of resources.