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CGIAR 2° Initiative launches webinar series on Asian Mega-Deltas


To tackle transforming Asian Mega-Deltas into sustainably productive and climate change resilient landscapes, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), World Resources Institute (WRI), CGIAR’s Research Program on Climate Change, Food Security, and Agriculture (CCAFS), WorldFish, and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) kicked off a webinar series on the CGIAR 2° Initiative on 30 June 2020. 

As COVID-19 continues to impact agrifood systems around the world, Asian Mega-Deltas are also facing the problem of climate change and its threats to local communities Mega-Deltas are now suffering from salinization, sea-level rise, floods, storms, and coastal inundation, resulting in millions of hectares of affected agricultural land as well as declining fish populations. 

To address these challenges, the CGIAR 2° Initiative aims to transform Asian Mega-Deltas into resilient and inclusive agricultural landscapes with low-emissions supply chains for high value products. The first webinar of the series attempted to arrive at a common understanding of climate-related development challenges in three Asian Mega-Deltas: the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta (Bangladesh), the Mekong Delta (Vietnam and Cambodia), and the Ayeyarwady Delta (Myanmar).

Dr. Philip S.J. Minderhoud from Utrecht University in the Netherlands emphasized the attractiveness of Mega-Deltas due to the abundance of natural resources, unique and valuable ecosystems, and fertile soil that is good for agriculture. However, he noted that climate change will be an even greater threat in the future, and that human-induced environmental changes in Mega-Deltas constitute a huge part of the problem at present.

Representatives from various partner organizations facilitated three breakout sessions. Dr. Jon Hellin, Platform Leader, Sustainable Impact at IRRI, and Dr. Bjoern Ole Sander, Senior Scientist and Climate Change Focal Point at IRRI, provided support to define priorities for an effective research for development (R4D) program and outline the added value of the partnership initiative.

Dr. Bruce Campbell, CCAFS Program Director, enumerated three implementation strategies: increasing access to climate-smart innovations; enhancing climate information services; and supporting policy and institutional reforms for transformational change. Campbell also pointed out the need to improve engagement with farmers, as a global survey revealed that only 10-15% are stepping up, investing in agricultural assets, purchasing inputs, and changing practices.

Prior to the webinar, participants engaged in an online survey to map out key regional and national initiatives, as well as stakeholder needs and priorities regarding climate change and food security. The webinar discussed the survey’s outcomes as well as how these and the webinar discussions will figure into delta-specific technical sessions and virtual consultations scheduled in July. Overall, the webinar further engaged the stakeholders in the CGIAR 2° Initiative, allowing them to provide more specific inputs on challenges that need to be addressed and the suitable partnerships needed to achieve the goals.