The duo will accelerate the development of innovations that will help smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia build resilience and adapt to climate change. 

Together, they have made new commitments totalling USD$200-million in response to immediate and long-term threats to food security and nutrition caused by climate change.

The announcement was delivered at the World Climate Action Summit by foundation co-chair Bill Gates. Gates was joined by H.E. Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, minister of climate change and environment of the UAE.

Gates also called on global leaders to elevate agriculture as a focus of global climate finance initiatives and support the global agriculture research network CGIAR.

Sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 60% of the population depends on agriculture for food and income, accounts for only 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The duo says that in recent years, a surge of extreme climate events — such as devastating droughts in East Africa and catastrophic flooding in West Africa — has contributed to reduced economic growth and increased income inequality with wealthy countries. This is due primarily to eroding crop and livestock production.

While numerous innovations exist to help smallholder farmers in the region, less than 2% of global climate finance is devoted to meeting their needs, according to the duo.  

"We need to make big bets on innovation to ensure smallholder farmers across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have the tools they need to adapt their practices, feed their people and build resilience in the face of climate change," says Gates. "The needs of farmers are an integral part of the global climate agenda."

CGIAR, the world's largest publicly funded agriculture research network, plays a critical role in supporting resilient, sustainable food production in a climate-stressed world, according to the duo.

It launched a three-year investment case to secure USD$4-billion by 2027, helping CGIAR to reach 500 million farmers by 2030 with climate adaptation innovations and to reduce emissions from the agriculture sector by one gigaton per year. This is the equivalent of eliminating emissions from more than 200 million cars.  

"We are ready to quickly scale up proven innovations that are already helping farmers in vulnerable regions like Africa and South Asia adapt to more challenging climate conditions," says professor Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, chair at CGIAR System Board.

"That includes increasing access to improved varieties of naturally stress-tolerant crops like cassava and millets, employing new tools and strategies farmers are using to support healthy ecosystems by reviving degraded lands and providing long-range climate forecasts that help farmers anticipate and navigate weather extremes and shifting rainfall patterns," adds Sibanda.

The foundation's USD$100-million investment, which matches the UAE's commitment of USD$100-million, will support organisations like the CGIAR that are at the forefront of developing agricultural innovations.

According to the duo, additional foundation funding will support the work of AIM4Scale, a new climate adaptation initiative to be launched by the UAE.

The foundation will also join partner countries, philanthropies and financial institutions to help accelerate access to high-impact agricultural innovations for small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia by reducing policy and funding-related barriers.

For over 50 years, CGIAR's work has helped save millions of lives and trillions of dollars globally. Its focus on smallholder farmers has delivered humanitarian benefits that rival the lifesaving power of vaccines. It consistently delivers high-impact innovations at a very low cost, with every dollar invested in its work returning USD$10 in benefits for local farming communities. 

With the foundation's commitment announced, it has exceeded its current pledge to CGIAR of USD$315-million and joins a growing global movement for action on climate adaptation. This includes new funding from donor countries to CGIAR, totalling over USD$800-million for the 2023-2024 funding cycle. 

The foundation concludes that its support for agriculture adaptation at COP28 builds on previous commitments dating back to 2017 to help smallholder farmers cope with climate change.

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