Earth Day 2020: the challenges and opportunities of climate action

Earth Day 2020

The enormous challenge — but also the vast opportunities — of action on climate change have distinguished the issue as the most pressing topic for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020. Richard McNally, SNV’s Global Product Coordinator on Climate and Business, shares our vision for climate action and concrete examples of positive change.

Climate change is having a profound impact on life as we know it. The scope of this impact seems to be becoming more drastic with each passing year. This is particularly true for the poorest countries and the most vulnerable groups, such as smallholder farmers, women and youth. The IPCCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land showed how increases in global mean surface temperature affect desertification (water scarcity), land degradation (soil erosion, vegetation loss, wildfire, permafrost thaw) and food security (crop yield and food supply instabilities). Changes in these processes drive risks to food systems, livelihoods, infrastructure and human and ecosystem health[1].

With large tracts of arable land across Sub Saharan Africa degraded, climate change is increasingly undermining all aspects of food security and sustainable development.

‘’The necessary responses within the agriculture and energy sectors are not happening’’

SNV recognises the need for transformation of agriculture and energy systems, in order to deliver climate resilient food security, sustainable land use and reduced GHG emissions. We work towards harnessing the power of markets and channeling investment to drive inclusive and climate smart outcomes. Through our Climate and Business lens, we provide an approach to support agri-businesses – be they producers, cooperatives, traders, processors or financiers - to increase productivity and incomes, in a way that responds to growing climate risks. This requires transforming the overall functioning of agricultural sectors, the relationships along them and the technologies adopted.

Our growing portfolio of work offers demonstrable climate smart business cases that can be further adopted and scaled. For example:

The Dutch Fund for Climate and Development is supporting private sector investment in climate change adaptation. The partnership connects SNV’s and WWF’s project development expertise with the Dutch Development Bank (FMO) and Climate Fund Manager’s mobilising and investment power. This partnership graduates business cases from idea to full implementation, using life-cycle financing.

On Earth Day, the need for transformational change has never been so apparent, as the world contends with the impact of COVID-19. We urgently need to raise awareness on the links between human well-being and the protection of nature. As governments are drawing up stimulus plans in an effort to counter the economic damage from the coronavirus, this offers a critical opportunity to ensure that the essential task of building a secure and climate resilient economy is put in place.  Large-scale investment to boost the development, deployment and integration of clean energy technologies – such as solar, wind, hydrogen, and batteries – should be a central part of governments’ plans because it will bring the twin benefits of stimulating economies and accelerating clean energy transitions. At the same time, it is critical that efforts to fix supply chain, making them more resilient to the impacts of climate change, are undertaken. SNV continues to work with our partners – be they governments, businesses, banks and local communities – across the 27 countries we work in, to promote a more sustainable and climate-resilient future.