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World Food Day: Agriculture must transform to feed a hotter, more crowded planet, UN says

By Gabriel Olawale

To mark World Food Day 2016, the United Nations is highlighting the close links between climate change, sustainable agriculture, and food and nutrition security, with the message: “The climate is changing. Food and agriculture must, too.”

“As the global population expands, we will need to satisfy an increasing demand for food,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his commemorating message.

“Yet, around the world, record-breaking temperatures, rising sea levels and more frequent and severe droughts and floods caused by climate change are already affecting ecosystems, agriculture and society’s ability to produce the food we need,” he added.

Mr. Ban pointed out that the most vulnerable people are world’s poorest, 70 per cent of whom depend on subsistence farming, fishing or pastoralism for income and food.

“Without concerted action, millions more people could fall into poverty and hunger, threatening to reverse hard-won gains and placing in jeopardy our ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he emphasized.

Ban Ki-moon noted that to bolster food security in a changing climate, countries must address food and agriculture in their climate action plans.

According to the UN chief, agriculture and food systems must become more resilient, productive, inclusive and sustainable.

Productivity of small farmers

“To bolster food security in a changing climate, countries must address food and agriculture in their climate action plans and invest more in rural development.”

The Secretary-General explained that targeted investments in those sectors would build resilience and increase the incomes and productivity of small farmers – lifting millions from poverty. “They will help to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and safeguard the health and well-being of ecosystems and all people who depend on them.

Next month, the historic Paris Agreement on climate change will enter into force – providing a much-needed boost to global efforts to reduce global greenhouse-gas emissions, limit temperature rise and promote climate-compatible sustainable agriculture.

“On this World Food Day, I urge all Governments and their partners to take a holistic, collaborative and integrated approach to climate change, food security and equitable social and economic development,” stressed Mr. Ban.

“The well-being of this generation and those to come depends on the actions we take now. Only by working in partnership will we achieve a world of zero hunger and free from poverty, where all people can live in peace, prosperity and dignity,” he concluded.

Food security and nutrition top international agenda

“Food is the most basic human right” said Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva at a dedicated special event Friday in Rome, “yet nearly 800 million people still suffer from hunger in the world.”

He noted that without food security and adequate nutrition for all, sustainable development simply could not be achieved, which is why the 2030 Agenda called for the eradication of hunger and all forms of malnutrition, as well as the promotion of sustainable agriculture.

“But these objectives are clearly at risk, as climate change advances,” he continued. “Droughts and floods are more frequent and intense. We have seen first-hand their terrible impacts in the past months, as El Niño hit Africa, Asia and other parts such as the Dry Corridor of Central America. We have also just witnessed the extensive damage caused by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti,” he added.

Echoing the Secretary-General, the top FAO official, natural disasters and extreme weather events are more likely to happen – and yet more difficult to predict, with the poorest suffering most.

 


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