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UNEP Executive Director Calls for Investments in Ecological Infrastructure

© UNEP14 May 2009: Speaking at the launch of the report “The Environmental Food Crisis: The Environment's Role in Averting Future Food Crises,” UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner stated that reversing environmental degradation and investing in ecological infrastructure such as forests, soils and water bodies is part of the Green Economy solution.

Noting that the economic models and management approaches of the 21st century will not support a growing world population, Steiner stressed the need to manage nature-based inputs, in particular the food and agriculture chain, in more efficient and sustainable ways.

At the launch event, which took place on the side of the 17th session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in New York, US, he also pointed to opportunities to diversify livelihoods and incomes via the emerging carbon markets, including renewable energy and income from conserving forest, soil and vegetation cover to sequester carbon. Noting Kenya's plans to boost renewable energy production, he stressed the potential of the renewable energy sector to create jobs and contribute to poverty eradication. He also outlined a project assessing the amounts of carbon stored by various climate-friendly land management systems, explaining that this can open up the prospect for farmers and agro-foresters to be paid not only for producing crops, but for “farming” carbon back into vegetation and soils.

The report on the environmental food crisis provides an overview of how environmental stresses such as climate change, water stress, invasive pests and land degradation may impact food prices and world food security, and proposes a seven-point plan to reduce the risk of hunger and rising food insecurity in the 21st century. The report stresses, among other conclusions, the need for a Green Revolution in Africa, noting the challenges of water scarcity, lack of infrastructure and impacts from climate change. The report also addresses problems of food waste, post-harvest losses, yield loss due to environmental degradation, drought and weed infestations, and interrelated threats from climate change. [UNEP press Release] [The Report]