Seed Security in Fragile and Climate-Vulnerable States: new IRC report on tangible climate solutions for communities at risk

ByInternational Rescue Committee

Seed Security in Fragile and Climate-Vulnerable States: new IRC report on tangible climate solutions for communities at risk

As international leaders gather for the COP28 climate summit, the IRC has released a new report detailing a promising new innovation in building climate resilience in countries uniquely affected by both conflict and climate change. The IRC is testing new approaches in seed security, aimed at enhancing farmer access to high-quality and climate-adapted seeds across Syria, Pakistan, South Sudan, and Niger.

The Airbel Impact Lab, IRC’s Research & Innovation Unit, has just released a report, – Seed Security in Fragile and Climate Vulnerable States – a series of case studies outlining disruptions to seed security in Niger, Pakistan, South Sudan, and Syria, proposing systems-based solutions, and advocating for inclusive climate action for the most vulnerable populations.

Despite the urgent need, fragile and conflict-affected contexts are being left behind by global climate action, facing disproportionate climate impacts but receiving only one-third of the climate funding compared to their stable counterparts, delivery approaches that don’t work, and a focus on emissions mitigation instead of adaptation, anticipatory action, and resilience.

The IRC’s project is the first seed system strengthening project in the protracted conflict setting of Northeast Syria – and has shown early promise in what was once the region’s wheat basket. IRC teams worked with 100 farmers to identify, test, and multiply seeds adapted to the current climate, with a special focus on women’s participation in agriculture. Within 5 years, the project has the potential to:

  • Partner with up to 2,200 farms in seed multiplication, producing 17,000 metric tons of wheat seed while improving its quality.
  • Reach approximately 14,000 farms (approximately 114,000 people in farming households).
  • Generate an additional $8.8m in revenue through seed multipliers.
  • Reduce dependence on centralized services that can be easily disrupted by climate shocks or conflict.

Jeannie Annan, IRC Chief Research & Innovation Officer, said: “Without innovations in resilience for crisis-affected contexts, hunger, poverty, malnutrition and the disproportionate impact of climate change will only increase, particularly in these fragile settings. We must disrupt the paradigm wherein the most vulnerable populations are systematically left out of climate action and focus on contexts that are experiencing the toxic mix of climate vulnerability and fragility. The IRC is calling for innovative, context-appropriate and conflict-sensitive interventions designed for these environments, including those that strengthen seed systems. By identifying and scaling high-yielding and climate-resilient seeds, it’s possible to build a sustainable food system that’s resilient to climate shocks”.

“Given the magnitude of convergent conflict and climate crises, we need to act together. We call upon governments, multilateral bodies, peer organizations and funders to support the replication of our existing solutions and to generate complementary solutions for seed security, food security and resilient livelihoods. Breakthroughs are urgently needed to match the urgency and gravity of the problem. Only by acting upon these recommendations can we truly address the climate crisis, particularly in areas that suffer the dual burdens of climate change and conflict.”