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

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid