News

UNCTAD Releases Paper on Food Security and Climate Change in Developing Countries

February 2011: The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has released a discussion paper titled "Assuring Food Security in Developing Countries under the Challenges of Climate Change: Key Trade and Development Issues of a Fundamental Transformation of Agriculture."

The paper lays out the challenges for food security arising out of the impacts of climate change, which could potentially reduce agricultural production in many developing countries by up to 50% while population in these countries could double. It underscores that agriculture is also responsible for 13-32% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which could reach up to 40% under a business as usual scenario.

The paper states that agriculture could be transformed to be part of the solution of climate change, since many sustainable agricultural practices can be carbon neutral or even become a net carbon sink. A holistic approach to sustainable agriculture is proposed that would address the inter-related problems of climate change, poverty, hunger, economic, social and gender equity, poor health and nutrition, and environmental sustainability. It further underlines the need for a fundamental transformation from a uniform model of agriculture, depending on external inputs, to flexible and regenerative production systems with minimal external inputs.

The paper then describes key governance challenges, including a far-reaching subsidy reform under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round. It stresses that, while countries can take some measures unilaterally, such as investing in public research, extension, education and services, improved local infrastructure and local sourcing of inputs, a reform of international trade and investment policies is a precondition for making national-level action effective.

The paper is divided into chapters that address: the impacts and consequences of global warming for agriculture in developing countries; GHG emissions in agriculture; key driving forces of GHG emissions; interplay between mitigation and adaptation; promising mitigation and adaptation strategies; and required national and international policy action and related challenges.

In the conclusion, the paper cautions against ignoring other challenges, such as ecosystem services, biodiversity and water management when attempting to "optimize climate mitigation and adaptation." [Publication: Assuring Food Security in Developing Countries under the Challenges of Climate Change: Key Trade and Development Issues of a Fundamental Transformation of Agriculture]