UN Initiative to boost resilience of women and youth in the Sahel through climate-smart agriculture launched at One Planet Summit

Initiative aims to transform livelihoods of a million people by doubling their income in three years.

Paris/New York –  A new United Nations initiative, aimed at building the resilience of a million women and youth in the Sahel to climate impacts through smart agriculture, was launched today at the One Planet Summit in the French capital. The launch coincides with a gathering of world leaders to mark the anniversary of the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The climate smart agriculture programme will leverage information and communication technologies (ICTs) to provide access to agriculture assets. Using a digital platform, known as ‘Buy-From-Farmers’ or AgriFed, small-scale women and youth farmers will be connected to customers, suppliers, information, markets and finance to help build their economic identity and make them valued entrepreneurs, able to end food insecurity in the Sahel.

The initiative is a programme of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS) and the G5 Sahel Secretariat. The participating UN agencies are the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization; the International Fund for Agricultural Development; the UN’s children’s organization UNICEF; UN Women; the World Food Programme; the International Organization for Migration, the UN Population Fund, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the UN Development Programme, under the umbrella of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWAS).

The G5 Sahel, the institutional framework for development coordination among the five countries in the region – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger -, has identified combating climate change and environmental degradation, along with their effects on rural populations, as a priority. At the national level, governments are working on adaptation strategies; the new initiative is designed to support those efforts.

UN Women presented the programme, which is among some 12 showcased at today’s Summit, on behalf of the UN system.

Women make up over 40 per cent of the agricultural labour force in the Sahel and play a critical role in enhancing food security and nutrition. In most places with high prevalence of undernourishment, women farmers have significantly less access to land, information, finance and agricultural inputs.  This makes them more vulnerable to climate shocks, affects their health and the food security and nutrition of the entire household. Lack of employment, on the other hand, puts youth at risk of terrorist recruitment.

The One Planet Summit, co-hosted by the President of France, Emmanuel Macron; the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres; and the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, is aimed at supporting the formal UN process on climate action as nations look to raise climate ambition in the run up to 2020.

The Summit aims showcasing and launching innovative projects and initiatives that boost financial flows to support developing countries’ national climate action plans in areas ranging from agriculture to renewable energy.

It also looks at measures needed to reform, redirect and reset the global financial system so that eventually trillions of dollars of finance flows into climate action under the Paris Agreement and the wider Sustainable Development Goals.

Background on the new programme to boost resilience of women and youth in the Sahel

The joint UN initiative responds to 12 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and has the potential to economically empower at least 1 million people, mostly women, youth and marginalized groups in the Sahel, doubling their income in 3 years.

Building upon climate-smart programmes currently being implemented by the UN agencies participating in the joint initiative, it will contribute to the three pillars of climate-smart agriculture.

These include: increasing productivity and incomes without damaging the environment; enhancing adaptation by strengthening local communities’ resilience and capacities; and mitigation, by reducing and/or removing greenhouse gas emissions through responsible farming, soil management and afforestation.