Coordinated efforts needed for food security and zero hunger

Mr da Silva

BONN, Germany – November 14: 12.40pm (Nuku’alofa Times/UNFCCC): Global food security can only be achieved through a coordinated policy approach to hunger, poverty and climate change, world leaders and experts said at today’s latest round of climate talks in Bonn.

It is an issue that Tonga and the rest of the South Pacific Island States are groping with, especially with funding of programs that would ensure food security in the face of climate change threats and effects.

The Pacific Community (SPC) has been working on a regional food bank, making available seedlings that could be planted to help ensure food supply in the face of cyclones, hurricanes, flooding and other natural disasters.

“Climate change is a fundamental threat to the Sustainable Development Goal 2 that aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition,” José Graziano da Silva, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), said at a high-level event on hunger at the UN Climate Change Conference.

Climate change undermines progress made towards zero hunger and climate variability raises the risk of disruptions to food supply and distribution. 

“To achieve SDG2 and effectively respond to climate change, we require a transformation of our agriculture sectors and food systems,” he said.

A taro farm in Tonga - where a family can finc income from and also use for feeding themselves

A taro farm in Tonga – where a family can find income from and also use for feeding themselves.

This year’s COP23 conference is focused on how to implement the commitments made under the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius and as close as possible to 1.5 Celsius.

The agreement recognizes the fundamental priority of achieving food security, and the vulnerability of food production systems to climate impacts.  

According to FAO’s State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017 report, hunger has grown for the first time in over a decade, mainly due to conflicts and climate change.

An estimated 815 million people go hungry every day.

Yet climate change brings more extreme weather events, land degradation and desertification, water scarcity, rising sea levels, and shifting climates – hampering efforts to feed the planet.

Thomas Pesquet, an astronaut with the European Space Agency who finished a six-month stint on the International Space Station this year, shared his views on the potential of technology to address the problem.

In the last decades, satellite imagery has greatly enhanced our understanding of flows and stocks of carbon and nitrogen, and is a key element in devising solutions at all scales. “Solutions are always local, but tools can be global,” Pesquet said.

Solutions in the Making

Sustainable Development Goal 2 under the 2030 Agenda aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.

Organized by FAO and its partners, the event brought together key people from governments, the private sector and civil society. They looked at ways to tackle climate change (SDG13), hunger (SDG2) and poverty (SDG1) in a coordinated manner, including through sustainable agriculture, and practices that provide multiple benefits.

Sustainable agriculture holds enormous potential to respond to climate change. The event generated a stream of ideas for actions to tap this potential. 

Over 70 percent of the world’s extreme poor live in rural areas. They are also the most vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition, natural resource scarcity, conflict, and climate impacts.

“The rural poor are part of a comprehensive response to climate change,” da Silva said.

“They are key agents of change who need to be strengthened in their roles as stewards of biodiversity, natural resources and vital ecosystem services.”

Some of the approaches in the outcome document of the event include:

  • Support to community-based mechanisms for climate change adaptation and disaster risk management through the Global Action Programme (GAP) on Food Security Nutrition in Small Island Developing States;
  • Sustainable forest management in integrated landscape management;
  • Enhancing investment in sustainable, low-carbon and resilient food systems to end poverty and hunger.

The meeting highlighted practical ideas to reduce emissions from agriculture and the role of improved practices that reduce emission intensity while raising productivity. For the livestock sector, FAO estimates that emissions could be readily reduced by about 30 percent with the adoption of best practices.

The meeting also agreed that land needs to be managed in ways to increase soil carbon, particularly in grasslands, and that robust protocols for assessing and monitoring carbon stocks need to be developed with stakeholders. Rehabilitating agricultural and degraded soils can remove up to 51 billion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere, according to some estimates.

All participants agreed that action in these, and many more areas in agriculture, can help the world build a stronger and more ambitious Paris Agreement that will deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals of ending poverty and reducing hunger.

The High-Level Roundtable on SDG2 was part of the Global Climate Action Days of the Marrakesh Partnership during the 23rd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP23).






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