Paris climate summit: World must keep food security in focus as population grows
Jose Graziano da Silva says food security has to remain a key concern at the talks, given global warming’s devastating impact on food production
The Paris climate conference, in the aftermath of the barbarian acts of terrorism, is a fresh opportunity for the international community to come together and show its commitment to the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, as the most appropriate way to promote a fairer, safer and more inclusive world.
Goal 13 says countries should take urgent action to combat climate change and its effects. Failure to do so would put at risk the achievement of all the other goals, in particular the fight against hunger. Countries gathering in Paris must bear this in mind.
A world free of hunger is within our reach. We produce enough food, we possess the technology, and we know what policies and actions work best. Yet climate change, including more frequent extreme weather events, represents a barrier that stands in the way of realising this goal.
Global warming affects food production – staple crop yields are decreasing and, by 2050, drops of 10-25 per cent and above are likely to be widespread. Meanwhile, droughts, floods, sea level rises and hurricanes increasingly threaten the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable. Such climate-related disasters contribute heavily to economic losses and population displacement. At the same time, the world population continues to grow.
We need a global framework to support development and growth while conserving our planet’s natural resources, particularly in rural areas. The Sustainable Development Goals are a central part of this framework.
Our overarching goal is to ensure food security for all remains at the centre of the climate debate. To this end, the Paris framework needs to support technology transfer, capacity development and the mobilisation of finance. These efforts will benefit everyone.
In particular, we must strengthen the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, fishers and foresters who are most at risk of food insecurity and are being disproportionately affected by climate change. Farmers, fishers and foresters are more than food producers. They are custodians of the earth, and, as such, help steward our natural resources on behalf of us all. They are thus central to the solution and cannot be made to bear alone the burden and cost of dealing with the effects of climate change.
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Only through close co-operation can we ensure the progress we have made on food security is not compromised by the impact of climate change.
Simply put: achieving food security and adequate nutrition for all for a growing population under a changing climate means we have to learn to produce more with less. This is a call to action.
Jose Graziano da Silva is director general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation