The Commonwealth Secretariat and UNCCD propose climate protection mechanism for farmers

04 July 2024
A group photo of attendees at an event hosted by the Commonwealth Secretariat and United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

Last week, insurance stakeholders, climate resilience experts, and representatives from the public and private sectors, gathered at the Commonwealth Secretariat’s headquarters to share ideas on an integrated approach to combatting losses from drought. In particular, buffering the effect of drought on farmers was discussed.

Convened in partnership with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the event was intended to address the plight of vulnerable populations that are often hit hardest by the impact of climate change, including drought. The technical roundtable, in the margins of London Climate Action Week, aimed to explore the creation of an incentive-driven insurance model as one of a suite of sustainable land management (SLM) practices.

Welcoming the high-level participants to the event at Marlborough House, the Senior Director of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Economic, Youth & Sustainable Development Directorate, Dr Ruth Kattumuri, said:

“The true extent of drought-related losses is often underestimated and calls for urgent and collective action. The Commonwealth Secretariat recognizes this pressing issue and, since the adoption of the Commonwealth Living Lands Charter at the Kigali CHOGM in June 2022, has been supporting efforts to enhance drought resilience.”

“The Commonwealth will continue to collaborate with partners to tackle this escalating global challenge, drawing on the innovation and ingenuity within our family of nations, including contributions from Indigenous peoples, local communities, businesses, scientists, and policymakers.” 

A timely blueprint

The proposed insurance model aims to provide crucial protective measures for farmers who are susceptible to climate-triggered yield reductions, including risks from climate shocks and other limiting factors like pests, epidemics, and conflict. It also encourages tangible incentives for behavioural change among stakeholders who adopt sustainable land practices.

Commenting on the need to forge new strategies to manage climate risk, the Managing Director of the Global Mechanism at the UNCCD, Louise Baker, said:

“Over the past two decades, droughts have affected more than 1.5 billion people and caused economic losses exceeding US$124 billion globally. In 2017 alone, economic damages from drought topped $23 billion, underscoring a dire need for effective solutions.”

“The innovative financing tools we propose are essential not merely for recovery but for proactive resilience. Our model facilitates immediate resource allocation post-drought, minimizing economic disruption and fostering quicker recovery”.

There were robust contributions from the roundtable participants that ranged from developing models tailored to the individual experiences of farmers in vulnerable communities to using next-generation indices to tackle the impact of drought globally. Other participants recommended leveraging technologies for effective communication and monitoring.

The issue of drought is of particular interest to the Commonwealth Secretariat and its effect on member states was raised in a recent blog to mark the UN’s World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. The blog noted that, from 2020 to 2022, drought has ravaged 23 countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.

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Media contact

  • Ijeoma Onyeator  Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat

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