Expressing their “deepest concern”, the three Rome-based
UN Agencies – FAO, the World Food Programme and the International
Fund for Agricultural Development – warned today that climate
change is a major challenge to world food security and will increase
hunger and malnutrition unless immediate action is taken.
FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf, speaking on behalf
of the three agencies, told the UN Climate Change Conference
here that extreme weather events are already having adverse
effects on food security and that changes in the medium
term would have further negative impacts.
“If we do not act now, climate change will increase
the number of hungry people in the world,” he said. “Climate
change is a major challenge to world food security.” FAO’s
2006 State of Food Insecurity Report estimated that 854
million people worldwide suffer from hunger and malnutrition,
including 820 million in developing countries.
Climate change to hit the most vulnerable
“Vulnerable people and food systems will be particularly
affected,” Dr Diouf said. “People who are already
vulnerable and food insecure are likely to become even
Three out of four of the world’s one billion poorest
people live in the rural areas of developing countries
and face immediate risks from increased crop failures and
loss of livestock. More than 1.5 billion forest-dependent
people, among the poorest in the world, are highly vulnerable
too, as are 200 million people dependent on fisheries.
“It is paramount that we address food security concerns
when discussing the challenges of climate change,” Dr
Diouf declared, announcing that in June next year FAO will
organize a high-level conference to address world food
security and the challenges of climate change and bioenergy.
Dr Diouf said immediate action was vital to increase the
resilience of rural people to climate change and help them
adapt to new conditions. While efforts must be redoubled
to ensure that a growing world population had access to
sufficient, safe and nutritious food, specific action to
be deployed included: early warning systems; adaptation
strategies; disaster risk- reduction activities; and hunger
Sustainable forest management also offered opportunities
for immediate mitigation and adaptation, Dr Diouf said.
Deforestation was responsible for some 17 percent of global
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions so that improved forest
management could provide “comprehensive, rapid and
effective action” while at the same time benefiting
the rural poor and capturing environmental co-benefits.
Payments for environmental services and for carbon conservation
and sequestration could be made to farmers living in fragile
ecosystems, Dr Diouf suggested.
Integrated strategies and collaborative approaches are
required to overcome the multiple threats of climate change,
Dr Diouf said. “Effective implementation will require
increased investment in agricultural development and natural
resources management at all levels.” But trade-offs
between the agriculture and energy sectors had to be carefully
FAO, IFAD and WFP pledged to use their knowledge, expertise,
global field presence and investment programmes “to
give our continued support to countries and to collaborate
with our Member Countries and other partners, within and
outside the United Nations, to ensure that the impacts
of climate change do not exacerbate hunger and poverty”,
Dr Diouf concluded.
High Level Conference
The High-Level Conference on World Food Security and the
Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy will be held
in Rome from 3-5 June 2008. The focus will be on how agriculture
can continue to produce adequate quantities of food for
the world’s growing population, and particularly
the poor and vulnerable, in changing climatic conditions.
The Conference will address the specific challenges from
climate and bioenergy for the food, agriculture, forestry
and fisheries sectors.
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