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17.3.4 Indicators


Indicators play a critical role in the monitoring and evaluation of climate change adaptation. The indicators for SDG 13, ‘Climate action’, do not provide the most direct measurement of adaptation effectiveness. The level to which the CCA action contributes to achieving SDG 5 (achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls) and SDG 10 (reducing inequality within and among countries) are also important indicators of success.


Scientific frameworks for measuring vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacities along with indicators have been developed (e.g. Cutter, Boruff and Shirley 2003; Turner et al. 2003; Wisner et al. 2004; Hinkel et al. 2012; Taylor 2017). Examples of indicators to measure effective adaptation efforts for coastal cities can include identifying the amount of land area known to have (in)sufficient infrastructure, reducing the number of residents living in floodplains or low-elevation coastal zones, or developing a network of communication channels in times of crisis or disaster. For SIDS, indicators for adaptation include measures to respond to decreases in available fresh water (drought-resistant vegetation, water- saving devices, establishing buffer zones to protect catchment areas), prevention and removal of maladaptive practices (amend policies that lead to destruction of mangroves, laws preventing recycling of water, or allowing building in vulnerable areas), and address impacts of climate change on biodiversity and land degradation (land-use models for efficient farming, sustainable fishing practices, raising community awareness) (United Nations 2015).


17


Some considerations for achieving more transformational change – and ensuring effective adaptation measures – include consideration of scale (using a landscape- or basin-scale approach, and distinguishing between short-, medium- and long-term strategies), community participation, novel approaches to adaptation (e.g. the use of crop insurance in developing countries, building market resilience to climate change), and those that transform places or shift locations (artificial islands combined with relocation, and new institutions and funding mechanisms for reduced vulnerability) (Kates, Travis and Wilbanks 2012). Vulnerability and capacity assessments (VCA) together with climate risk screening and assessment are necessary to ensure that future development programmes consider impacts of climate change – see, for example, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies VCA (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies n.d.), and Climate and the Disaster Risk Screening tool from the World Bank (World Bank 2018), or UNDP Report on stocktake of climate risks screening tool (Olhoff and Schaer 2010).


17.4 Creating a sustainable agrifood system i.


One of the best illustrations of the need to reduce uncertainties in the face of climate change is found in the agrifood system. The following section looks at some of the possibilities for transformation in this sector.


incentivize farmers to reduce negative environmental externalities, including greenhouse gas emissions, and create positive externalities, such as enhanced biodiversity or other ecosystem services;


ii. tackle food losses and waste along the entire value chain; (Box 17.2) and


iii. encourage the adoption of healthy and sustainable dietary patterns.


17.4.1 What are the most urgent changes required in the system?


The agrifood system is responsible for significant environmental impacts including greenhouse gas emissions, habitat destruction and biodiversity loss, and pollution of air and water resources. These environmental costs are compounded by the inefficiency of the agrifood system. According to one study, 62 per cent of the energy (in terms of kcal) harvested as crops and other biomass, is lost or wasted after accounting for losses from food waste, trophic losses from livestock, and human overconsumption (Alexander et al. 2017). Achieving the SDGs requires urgent action to reduce the system’s environmental footprint and increase its overall efficiency and resilience. A whole-system approach is needed, including action to intensify agriculture sustainably, reduce food losses and greenhouse gas emissions along supply chains, and tackle wasteful consumption patterns including high consumer food waste and overconsumption of animal products.


Policies that shape the agrifood system can be broadly categorized in terms of production, processing and distribution, and consumption. Agricultural policies are typically focused on supporting farmers rather than on providing incentives for improved environmental outcomes. Moreover, reforming subsidy regimes often presents governments with significant political challenges. To the extent that they encourage production without accounting for environmental impacts, many agricultural policies exacerbate environmental problems (e.g. subsidies for fertilizer, water or energy use). Few governments have developed strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture and land-use sector (with the notable exception of forests); to date, no national government has fully included agriculture in a carbon pricing scheme.


Trade policies for agricultural commodities typically avoid explicit environmental criteria in order not to contravene World Trade Organization (WTO) rules that prevent governments from distinguishing between ‘like’ products, while regulations are concerned primarily with human health. Incentives to reduce food waste and losses have been eroded by low and declining real food prices (Benton and Bailey in press) and, despite increasing government intervention to shape consumption patterns for public health reasons (e.g. to reduce consumption of sugar, salt and trans fats), there is little policymaking that encourages sustainable diets (Garnet et al. 2015).


In sum, transforming the agrifood system to achieve the SDGs requires that the environmental footprint of agriculture is dramatically reduced, food losses and waste are drastically curtailed, and populations adopt healthier and more sustainable diets. This in turn requires a shift in policymaking to:


432 Policies, Goals, Objectives and Environmental Governance: An assessment of their effectiveness


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