Sustainable farming, ‘key’ to world free of hunger, malnutrition, says UN agriculture chief
Focusing this year on the links between agricultural trade, climate change and food security, Director-General José Graziano da Silva said in the foreword that “ensuring food security for all is both a key function of, and a challenge for agriculture, which faces ever-increasing difficulties.”
“As populations rise, urbanization increases and incomes grow, the agricultural sector will be under mounting pressure to meet the demand for safe and nutritious food,” Mr. da Silva explained.
Climate change will have an increasingly adverse impact on many regions of the world, with those in low latitudes being hit the hardest – FAO chief
He sized up that agriculture must generate decent jobs to support billions of rural people globally, especially in developing countries where hunger and poverty are concentrated.
Turning to the warming planet, he underscored that agriculture is pivotal in helping to sustain the world’s natural resources and biodiversity.
“Climate change will have an increasingly adverse impact on many regions of the world, with those in low latitudes being hit the hardest,” he said.
The report points out that by the middle of this century, higher temperatures, precipitation changes, rising sea levels, extreme weather events and a likely increase in damage due to pests and disease, will all significantly impact agriculture and food security.
Climate change impacts will be affect different places in different ways, with variations across crops and regions. Arid and semi-arid regions will be exposed to even lower rainfall levels and higher temperatures, lowering crop yields.
Countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America will be disproportionately affected, many of which already suffer from poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition.
Conversely, countries in temperate, largely more-developed areas, may benefit from warmer weather during their growing season, further exacerbating existing inequalities and widening the development gap.
“Unless we take urgent action to combat climate change, we can expect to see a very different global picture of agriculture in the future,” the FAO chief stressed.
Agricultural trade impact
The relationship between agricultural trade and food security is increasingly important in both trade and development agendas, with developing countries requiring international support to cope with climate change.
While international trade can potentially stabilize markets and reallocate food from surplus to deficit regions, Mr. Graziano da Silva emphasized: “We must ensure that the evolution and expansion of agricultural trade is equitable and works for the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition globally.”
Against the backdrop that the world’s food system overall in 2050 will need to produce almost 50 per cent more, compared to 2012, according to the report, the sector needs to adjust to climate change effects and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while meeting a growing demand.
Producing more with less, while preserving natural resources and enhancing the livelihoods of small-scale family farmers, will be a key challenge for the future.
“Developing and implementing policies that shift global agricultural production onto a more sustainable path, protect the most vulnerable countries and regions…will be key if we are to see a world free of hunger and malnutrition by 2030,” concluded the Director-General.
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More than 65 million ‘low-carbon jobs’ can be created by 2030: UN-backed Climate Summit urges action ‘to the next level’
Those are some of the opportunities of moving to a low-carbon economy, outlined on Friday, at the close of the Global Climate Action Summit, which took place in San Francisco.
It brought together national, regional and urban leaders from across the world, together with businesses, investors and civil society organizations, in an effort to keep global warming to well-under 2 degrees Celsius, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
Committing to take “their collective ambition to the next level”, participants focused on five specific areas.
- Healthy Energy Systems: An alliance of more than 60 state, regional and city governments pledged to 100 per cent zero-emission targets, together with 23 multinational corporations with revenue of more than $470 billion.
- Inclusive Economic Growth: 488 companies from 38 countries, adopted emission-reduction goals, in line with the Paris Agreement – 40 per cent up on the number last year.
- Sustainable Communities: More than 70 big cities are now committed to carbon neutrality by 2050, representing 450 million citizens.
- Land and Ocean Stewardship: A leaders’ group will head a new alliance linking more than 100 NGOs, pledged to more action on behalf of forest, food and land sustainability.
- The Investor Agenda: brings together nearly 400 investors, managing $32 trillion of assets, who pledged to scale up the flow of capital into climate action, and a more sustainable, low-carbon economy.
The summit issued a formal “Call to Global Climate Action” saying that “now I the time for all leaders to step up”.
“Only together will we transform our communities and energy systems, create employment opportunities and economic prosperity, protect our oceans and natural environment and complete the transition to a zero-carbon world”.
This Summit and its Call to Action make an important contribution towards achieving our collective goal: to boost ambition that we need to address climate change – Patricia Espinosa, UN climate change chief
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said the summit had demonstrated “the vast opportunity afforded by climate action. They are betting on green because they understand this is the path to prosperity and peace, on a healthy planet.”
The Call to Action, was presented to the UN’s Special Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, in a symbolic gesture to illustrate that it is future generations who will be most affected by the decisions of the current generation to build a more resilient world.
Accepting the Call to Action on behalf of the United Nations, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, said: “This Summit and its Call to Action make an important contribution towards achieving our collective goal: to boost ambition that we need to address climate change.”
“We must increase climate action and create unstoppable momentum towards COP24 in Poland and the Secretary General’s 2019 Climate Summit,” she added adding that the summit “will encourage governments worldwide to step up their actions, demonstrating the vital role that states and regions, cities, companies, investors, and civil society are playing to tackle climate change.”
The event took place against a background of accelerating impacts of climate change, evidenced this week through the destructive power of Super Typhoon Mangkhut in South East Asia, and Hurricane Florence, on the east coast of the United States, which killed dozens and caused billions of dollars-worth of destruction.
“Climate change is undoubtedly the defining issue of our time, and working together across nations, organizations and communities is the only way that we can tackle this enormous task and seize the huge opportunities,” said head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim.
“We have seen here over the past few days the inspiring amount of work that is already being undertaken by communities around the world to address these issues. If we manage to put our environment first, we can come out on the other end of this formidable challenge and achieve our common goal: a sustainable world for all.”
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Now is a ‘pivotal time for climate action’ says UN chief, looking to ozone layer gains
When scientist revealed that chlorofluorocarbons, found mainly in refrigerants and aerosol sprays, were tearing a hole in the ozone layer – a fragile shield of gas that protects the earth and helps preserves life – the world responded with the Montreal Protocol. The landmark 1987 global agreement, heralded the phasing out of the production of ozone-depleting substances.
“We can draw inspiration from the Montreal Protocol, a shining example of how the world can come together for people and planet,” added the UN chief.
Phasing out ozone-depleting substances has not only helped protect the ozone layer but also contributed significantly to global efforts to address climate change.
Moreover, it has protected human health and ecosystems by preventing some harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the earth. “Thanks to this global commitment,” Mr. Guterres stated, “the ozone layer is expected to return to its 1980 levels by mid-century.”
“However,” he continued, “this work is not yet done.”
We can draw inspiration from the Montreal Protocol, a shining example of how the world can come together for people and planet – UN chief
He explained that the landmark Kigali Amendment, which enters into force on 1 January 2019, sets its sights on hydrofluorocarbons; powerful climate-warming gases, still being used in cooling systems throughout the world.
“So far,” Mr. Guterres said, “46 countries have ratified this new instrument,” as he called on all others to show their commitment to a healthier planet and “follow suit.”
“I expect countries to demonstrate significant progress in implementing the Kigali Amendment at the Climate Summit I am convening in September 2019,” the Secretary-General stressed.
For over three decades, the Montreal Protocol has done much more than helped repair the ozone layer.
“It has shown us how environmental governance can respond to science, and how countries can come together to address a shared vulnerability,” said Mr. Guterres.
“I call for that same spirit of common cause and, especially, greater leadership as we strive to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change and mobilize the ambitious climate action we so urgently need at this time,” he concluded.
Keep Cool and Carry On
The theme for this year’s Ozone Day, commemorated annually on 16 September, is a “motivational rallying call” urging everyone to protect the ozone layer and climate under the Montreal Protocol.
“The theme has two connotations – that our work of protecting the ozone layer also protects climate, and that the Montreal Protocol is a “cool” treaty, as exemplified by its outstanding success”, says the UN’s official webpage marking the day.
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