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Climate change

Safeguarding food and water security

Food Security

Climate change is already affecting agricultural production and food security due to increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and greater frequency of some extreme events. The hardest hit are often those living in rural areas, where people mostly depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Adverse impacts from climate change are expected to increase further, leading to:

  • reduced productivity and quality of staple crops, such as wheat and maize;
  • heat stress on fruit and vegetable production;
  • increased impacts of drought and flooding;
  • changed geographical redistribution of pests and diseases;
  • movement of fish stocks; and
  • loss of marine habitats such as coral reefs due to acidification of oceans and heat stress. 

Millions of people relying on farming, fishing and pastoral systems will be directly impacted by these changes, with global food prices expected to rise.

Building resilience and adapting to climate change

Agricultural production contributes almost one-third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, emanating from crops, livestock, land clearance and supply chains.

Australia supports adaptation – helping reduce farmers' exposure to short-term climate risks, while also building resilience so they can cope with shocks and longer-term stresses. Support also targets mitigation, aiming to reduce GHG emissions associated with agricultural production. This includes improved agricultural technologies and practices, which can increase productivity and reduce net agricultural emissions – for example through avoided deforestation, agroforestry practices, improved soil carbon management, targeted fertiliser applications and animal husbandry techniques.

Water Security

Water is at the vanguard of climate impacts. In some places, increasing droughts and extreme temperatures are leading to water scarcity and losses in agricultural production. In other places, unseasonable rainfall can lead to flooding that impacts on drinking water and threatens sanitation facilities. Climate impacts are changing river courses, increasing snow-melt and changing the distribution of rainfall, with serious impacts on vulnerable communities.

Australia is investing in water resource management and water and sanitation programs to assist partner governments in the Indo-Pacific region build more resilient systems to support water security from the rapidly growing threat of climate change.

Key programs include:

  • Water for Women Fund ($118.9 million, 2017-2022) is delivering 20 climate-resilient water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects across 15 countries in the Indo-Pacific region. Additional information on the partnership and individual projects can be found on the Water for Women website.
  • Australian Water Partnership ($24 million, 2019-2023) mobilises Australian water sector expertise in support of our development cooperation program. The Partnership is mainstreaming climate change across all relevant activities and supporting dedicated climate change initiatives such as its Hindu Kush Himalaya Governance Program and the Water Security and Climate Resilience in West Java project. Additional information on the partnership can be found on the Australian Water Partnership website.

Our programs in action

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