Climate change, hunger and poverty must be addressed together


Photo credit: FAO

A farmer in Tanzania in a rice paddy which uses a climate-smart system to intensify production.

World Food Day highlights that climate is changing and that food and agriculture must too

Italian Prime Minister Renzi, Pope Francis and Princess Lalla Hasnaa of Morocco urge collective action

The resounding message from this year’s World Food Day celebrations in Rome and in many countries is that climate change, hunger and poverty must be addressed together in order to achieve the sustainable development goals set by the international community.

“Higher temperatures and erratic weather patterns are already undermining the health of soils, forests and oceans on which agricultural sectors and food security depend,” FAO Director-General José Graziano said at the global World Food Dayceremony here today.

Droughts and floods are more frequent and intense as are climate-related outbreaks of diseases and pests, he added, citing the terrible impact of El Nino in parts of Africa, Asia and Central American and more recently, Hurricane Matthew in Haiti.

“As usual the poorest and the hungry suffer the most and the vast majority of them are small family farmers that live in rural areas of developing countries,” the FAO Director-General said, noting how adaptation and mitigation to climate change is fundamental, and that this requires “much better access to appropriate technologies, knowledge, markets, information and investments.”

Recent international commitments for action, including the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, recognize the fundamental role of sustainable agriculture in addressing climate change, hunger and poverty.

The World Food Day 2016 slogan: Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too underscores the fact that to feed a global population expected to reach more than 9 billion by 2050, humanity needs to produce more food, but in ways that use up less natural resources and that drastically reduce loss and waste.

Political will

In his address, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi stressed that the fight against hunger is essentially a political issue. “Italy maintains that the fight for food security is, at this point in history, a question of politics with a capital ‘P’,” he added.

Prime Minister Renzi said that the international community needs to urgently address the problems of inequality and injustice. Italy would strive to ensure that these themes are at the top of the international agenda, including at two important events in March next year: the G7 summit, which Italy will host and preside and a meeting of European Union leaders.

Read the full article: FAO

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Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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