Feeding the World in a Changing Climate

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The statistics regarding the production and subsequent consumption of food on our planet are staggering. With climate change affecting ecosystems the world over, including already-stressed regions, food security is a problem that is not going to go away anytime soon. On Wednesday, an independent commission of scientific leaders taken from 13 countries released a number of recommendations to policy makers on how to achieve food security in the face of climate change.

According to the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, there are nearly one billion undernourished on our planet, and millions who suffer from chronic disease due to excess food consumption.

The demand for food continues to grow as populations continue to grow, and food prices grow with them. But despite all of this, approximately one-third of food produced for humans is lost or wasted.

On top of this, climate change threatens more and more droughts, flooding, and outbreaks of pests at the same time as we clear 12 million hectares of agricultural land through land degradation and deforestation.

“Food insecurity and climate change are already inhibiting human well-being and economic growth throughout the world and these problems are poised to accelerate,” said Sir John Beddington, chair of the Commission. “Decisive policy action is required if we are to preserve the planet’s capacity to produce adequate food in the future.”

A farmer harvests this season's cauliflower crop near Kullu town, Himachal Pradesh, India. Previously the area was a major producer of high-value apples, but rising temperatrures in the last few decades have forced almost all apple producers there to abandon their crop. For these farmers, switching to vegetable production has resulted in a major boost in incomes and livelihoods, illustrating that climate change adaptation can be effective and highly profitable.

The report produced by the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change was released at the Planet Under Pressure conference currently in progress and highlights specific opportunities available under the mandates of the Rio+20 Earth Summit, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Group of 20 (G20) nations.

The Commission outlined seven recommendations that are designed to be implemented by a combination of governments, international institutions, investors, agricultural producers, consumers, food companies, and researchers. Those 7 recommendations are:

  1. Integrate food security and sustainable agriculture into global and national policies
  2. Significantly raise the level of global investment in sustainable agriculture and food systems in the next decade
  3. Sustainably intensify agricultural production while reducing GhG emissions and other negative environmental impacts of agriculture
  4. Develop specific programmes and policies to assist populations and sectors that are most vulnerable to climate changes and food insecurity
  5. Reshape food access and consumption patterns to ensure basic nutritional needs are met and to foster healthy and sustainable eating patterns worldwide
  6. Reduce loss and waste in food systems, targeting infrastructure, farming practices, processing, distribution and household habits
  7. Create comprehensive, shared, integrated information systems that encompass human and ecological dimensions

The full report, Achieving food security in the face of climate change, is available in PDF format (link above), while a video explaining the gist of the report can be viewed here:

For a series of quotes from the various Commissioners involved in the preparation of the report, jump to the next page.

Image Source: CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture

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Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.

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