Climate-smart agriculture

Climate change is already affecting 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 that would be required to mitigate their own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or to increase carbon storage on their land.

The Swiss Re Foundation is committed to promoting Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) – the planning and development of sustainable agricultural systems – as an approach to transforming and reorienting smallholder farming to support food security and address climate change. By the end of 2021, we aim to reach 500 000 farming households, or 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 linkages. Together with ISF Advisors, we’ve completed an initial analysis to better understand the role that CSA could play in this context. Based on the report's insights and findings, we favour projects that build on:

  • Commercially sustainable CSA service models that need philanthropic support until they can attract growth funding independently
  • Models that incorporate multiple CSA components, ideally implementing a commercially sustainable business model with a GHG emissions reduction and/or carbon storage or removal
  • Models that incorporate innovative technological or digital components to help increase the reach, customisation, effficiency and/or sophistication of services
  • Where possible, platform models that allow multiple service providers and offtakers to provide complementary knowledge-based services through a shared infrastructure
  • Where possible, models that link to Swiss Re’s business activities and skills in a way that can enhance the impact of our support, for example, in being related to insurance or risk management or in requiring management of climate-related risks and impacts