World Bank and Albania explore options to increase the resiliency of agriculture to climate change

March 3, 2011

Tirana, March 3, 2011, The World Bank, the Agriculture, Food and Consumer Protection (MoAFCP) and the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Water Administration (MoEFWA) of Albania are working together to increase the resiliency to climate change of agricultural systems in Albania through the Regional Program on Reducing Vulnerability to Climate Change in ECA Agricultural Systems.

Through this cooperation, in-depth analysis of the projected impact of climate change on agriculture has been undertaken and key adaptation policies, programs and investments have been identified which can help reduce the vulnerability of Albania’s agricultural sector to climate change. As part of this program, the World Bank, MoAFCP and MoEFWA jointly hosted a high-level National Dissemination and Consensus Building Conference in Tirana on March 3rd.

Helping countries like Albania prepare for climate change is one of the World Bank’s regional and global priorities. This Conference is a great opportunity for the government and people of Albania to prioritize policies, programs, and investments for implementation,” said Dina Umali-Deininger, Sector Manager for Agriculture and Rural Development in the World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia region.

This Conference was the latest step in the program to Reduce the Vulnerability to Climate Change in Albanian Agricultural Systems, which officially started in Albania in May 2009.

Based on experience, collected data, and analyses and assessments, the expected climate change impacts may affect to a great extent provision of food for the poorest rural populations and economic growth in the most vulnerable areas. At the same time, the changes may generate new opportunities for farmers in agro-climatic zones or microzones, and our country is a typical example of their variety relative to its size,” said H.E. Genc Ruli, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Consumer Protection.

Through the Program, over the last two years, a National Awareness Raising and Consultation Workshop has been held, two Agriculture and Climate Change Country Notes for Albania have been produced, multiple farmer consultations have been conducted throughout the four agro-ecological zones (AEZs) in Albania, and a draft Impact Assessment and Menu of Adaptation Options for Albanian agricultural systems has been produced. This draft Impact Assessment and Menu of Adaptation Options was developed in partnership between national experts and farmers and a team of world-class experts from Europe and North America from the Industrial Economics Incorporated (IEc) consulting firm. The draft was discussed with key stakeholders at the national and local levels during the National Dissemination and Consensus Building Conference, and key recommendations for policies, programs, and investments are now being prioritized and finalized, in full cooperation with the MoAFCP.

Recognizing that agriculture is both extremely important to rural livelihoods in Albania and highly vulnerable to climate change, this Program works to develop appropriate adaptation measures to reduce the vulnerability of Albania agricultural systems to climate change.

According to H.E. Fatmir Mediu, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Water Administration, “Albania’s Second National Communication under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was published in 2009, represents the major policy paper that assesses climate change. In the meantime, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Water Management has started its preparations to draft the Third National Communication, which implies the involvement and cooperation of the sectors of energy, industry, agriculture, forests, waste, and transport, to name a few.”

Umali-Deininger stressed that, “The recent devastating floods in Albania highlight the vulnerability of the agricultural sector to growing climate variability and change in the country, and underline the need to implement appropriate adaptation measures to help reduce this vulnerability.”

Climate projections indicate that temperatures in Albania will increase, while precipitation will both decline and become more variable, resulting in increased extreme events such as flood and drought and decreases in projected crop yields, particularly for such crops as grapes and olives.

These changes could significantly affect the country’s agricultural systems and negatively impact the livelihoods of Albania’s rural population. The projected impacts of climate change highlight the need to develop and implement actions which can increase the resilience of agriculture to climate risks in the short and long terms. The program has worked to identify measures which can have immediate positive impacts on the agricultural systems in Albania while simultaneously adapting to future climate projections, creating “win-win” options and recommendations.

This program is being managed by the World Bank and supported by grants from the World Bank, the World Bank-Netherlands Partnership (BNPP), and the Trust Fund for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development (TFESSD).