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CGIAR, FAO, IFAD, World Bank Discuss Implications of IPCC Report on Food Security

ifad-fao-worldbank-cgiar3 April 2014: Several multilateral organizations have made the projected impacts of climate change on food production a focus of recent global conferences, based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, ‘Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.' The report predicts that shifting weather patterns will seriously disrupt agriculture.

Climate change has contributed to diminishing fish catch, increasing and spiking food prices, lower maize and wheat yields and increasing food insecurity among the world's poor, according to the report. It describes tropical agricultural areas as the most vulnerable to negative climate impacts, noting that Africa and South Asia's fisheries could experience declines of 40 percent by 2050. Central America, Brazil and the Andes are also predicted to face increasing food insecurity while some high latitude areas, such as China and the United Kingdom (UK), may benefit from climate change.

Participants at the ‘Agriculture growth, jobs, food security and climate: Taking action in response to the IPCC report,' which convened in London, the UK, on 3 April, discussed opportunities for adapting food systems to changing climates, with a focus on strengthening smallholder farmers' resilience. Participants proposed options including: increasing insurance and private capital to protect farmers and vulnerable communities from more frequent, extreme weather; shifting to climate-friendly crops; relocating to areas with better conditions; and ‘EverGreen Agriculture,' integrating trees into crop and livestock systems.

“Consensus on the impact of climate change on food security should accelerate the expansion of proven adaptation strategies and new programs,” said Sonja Vermeulen, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), at the conference. Vermeulen said adaptation efforts should address all aspects of food security that face climate risks, including crop storage, markets and transportation.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN's (FAO) biennial Regional Conference for Europe recommended that national governments should focus on the revival and development of the agricultural and rural sector, in line with an FAO paper titled ‘State of Food and Agriculture in the Region, Including Future Prospects and Emerging Issues.' To improve food security and nutrition, the conference discussed, inter alia: shifting from production and reliance on one or two commodities; social safety net programs targeting vulnerable populations; and stimulating agricultural innovation. It recommended focusing on smallholder producers to reduce rural poverty, improve agricultural competitiveness and increase output.

Speaking at the conference, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva described “efforts to mitigate, to adapt and, most importantly, to shift to more sustainable food systems” as one of FAO's core responsibilities. Noting that climate change impacts on agricultural production will be felt more in areas that already experience marginal production, he underscored the particular vulnerability of the world's poorest. He highlighted a FAO initiative that aims to reduce rural poverty by focusing on income diversification, land tenure and market access for family farmers and smallholders.

The FAO conference, which governs FAO's activities in Central Asia and Europe, took place in Bucharest, Romania, from 2-4 April. The Central Asia and Europe region includes 53 member countries and the European Union (EU).

CCAFS, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Bank and other partners organized the UK conference. [FAO Press Release] [FAO Conference Website] [FAO Conference Agenda] [IFAD Press Release] [State of Food and Agriculture in the Region, Including Future Prospects and Emerging Issues]