Climate change is already affecting the world’s agriculture and food security. Higher temperatures, more frequent extreme weather events, water shortages and rising sea levels – all could seriously compromise the ability of agriculture to feed the most vulnerable, impeding progress toward the eradication of hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Moreover, agriculture itself is a major contributor to climate change.
Declines in food productivity would directly hurt millions of low-income smallholder farmers, especially subsistence farmers in developing countries, by reducing supply and increasing prices. Smallholders bear more of the risks of climate change than other agricultural producers because they have fewer resources to mitigate the stresses it creates. They also lack the resources required to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions or to increase carbon storage on their land.
For all these reasons, the Swiss Re Foundation is committed to promoting climate-smart agriculture. By the end of 2021, we aim to reach 500 000 farming households, or about 2.5 million people, with projects that improve their incomes and risk management capacities in two areas:
1. Agricultural monitoring based on Earth observation data. As there are still huge uncertainties around where and when food is grown, how much will be produced in the future and where and when shortfalls and yield gaps can be expected to occur, we support initiatives that are developing new scalable, transferable methodologies and approaches that leverage Earth observation data to inform governments’ agricultural monitoring.
2. Providing climate-smart advisory services. To improve their livelihoods, farmers need knowledge, tools and market access. We focus primarily on commercially sustainable climate-smart advisory service models that incorporate innovative technological or digital components and that need philanthropic support until they can attract growth funding independently.
We’re also exploring how we as a Foundation can help smallholder farmers access risk financing instruments such as insurance.