News / Africa

Ensuring Food Security, Tackling Climate Change

Smallholder agroforestry in Kenya is an example of sustainable intensification, according to Achieving Food Security in the Face of Climate Change report.
Smallholder agroforestry in Kenya is an example of sustainable intensification, according to Achieving Food Security in the Face of Climate Change report.
Joe DeCapua

A high-level international panel has announced its recommendations for achieving food security while addressing the effects of climate change. The recommendations from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change released Wednesday come in advance of the U.N. climate change conference this month in Durban, South Africa.

The panel includes scientists from 13 countries who are experts in agriculture, climate, economics, trade, nutrition and ecology. It spent the past year analyzing many climate studies – a year that included climbing food prices, humanitarian disasters and political unrest -- all of which, it says, threaten food security. The panel says climate change will only make things worse.

“The current situation is just unacceptable. A large portion of the human population is food insecure and were vulnerable to food insecurity. A billion people or so go hungry and that is genuine poverty. And something on the order of another billion people don’t have appropriate nutrition. It’s seen and it’s arguably ironic that at the same time there [are] about a billion people or so who are suffering from chronic disease due to over consumption,” said Professor John Beddington, commission chair and Britain’s chief scientific advisor.

Soaring commodity prices, he said, have pushed more people into poverty.

“We’ve seen in the last two or three years significant price spikes, following on decades of declines in real food prices. And those spikes have really presented real problems, exacerbating poverty. Something of the order of a hundred million people went into poverty following the 2007/8 price spike – another 40 or so million went into poverty after the 2010/11 price spike,” he said.

Professor Beddington said the effects of climate change can already be seen but warns there’s more to come.

Lasting effects, growing needs

“The greenhouse gases already in our atmosphere will drive climate change for the next two or three decades. We’re going to see, and all models, and indeed all analyses, indicate that there’s already a trend that we’re going to see more extreme events -- high temperatures, droughts, floods -- and actually these are already becoming more frequent. And we can expect these more severe events leading to really difficult social, economic and ecologic consequences,” he said

The prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa is given as one example. Droughts in the region have become much more frequent.

The current world population stands at seven billion. It’s forecast to increase to nine billion by the year 2050. Commission member Megan Clarke, head of Australia’s national science agency, said a lot more food will be needed.

“The challenge that’s ahead of us globally is really quite hard even to comprehend because we must increase global food production by 2050 by some 30 to 80 percent and reduce our emissions by half. So to put it another way, as my children grow older over the next 60 years, we’ll need to produce as much food [as] has ever been produced in human history. And at the same time, during the period, we’ll have to learn how to halve our emission rate from agriculture. So this is a huge challenge,” she said.

There are many regions, she said, where the amount of food being produced is well below the amount that could be produced.

“In much of sub-Saharan Africa, we know that we can use really small doses of fertilizer at the base of individual plants and improve productivity. And we could also reduce the amount of fertilizer used. Similar, we know in China that there’s evidence that the current levels of high rates of fertilizer use can be reduced. And we can reduce nitrous oxide emissions and maintain our productivity,” she said.

Following the recent food supply and price crises, world leaders pledged to invest much more in agriculture, especially smallholder agriculture. While some investments have been made, many experts and agriculture-related agencies say a great deal more is needed.

Commission member Adrian Fernandez, head of Mexico’s National Institute of Ecology, said funding is an issue that cannot be ignored.

“This is one of the big topics that will be discussed in Durban. Financing – how can we mobilize much more resources to address the problems of climate change? -- in this case related to such an important issue, which is food security and agricultural production,” he said.

What to do?

The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change has released seven recommendations. They include integrating food security and sustainable agriculture into both global and national policies; raising the level of agricultural investment; sustainably increasing agricultural production while reducing the environmental impact; and assisting vulnerable populations to adapt to climate change and food insecurity.

Other recommendations are “reshaping food access and consumption patterns” to ensure basic nutritional needs are met; reducing the amount of food lost or wasted in production; and establishing “comprehensive, shared and integrated information systems” to track changes in land use, food production and climate change.

Most scientists agree that global temperatures are rising and that man-made emissions are a big part of it. But some scientists disagree and say human contribution to climate change is much smaller.

The U.N. Climate Change Conference in Durban, known as COP 17, will be held from November 29th through December 9th.

You May Like

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures. For now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid