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UNGA Second Committee Considers Agriculture and Food Security

28 October 2010: The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) considered agriculture development and food security when it met in New York, US, on 28 October 2010.

Many speakers, including Libya, Venezuela, Bolivia, and China, highlighted the impact of climate change on food security. Nepal, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), stressed that the global food and financial crises, in addition to the "disproportionate and unacceptable" impact of climate change, had gravely affected the efforts of LDCs to achieve agricultural development and food security. Some speakers focused on the intensification of drought and water scarcity, with Mauritania, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, underlining that Africa had suffered most from climate change. Oman, associating with the Arab Group, said global challenges such as climate change, desertification, drought and rising energy prices had expanded the gap between populations. Qatar, associating with the G77 and the Arab Group, expressed hope for increased awareness of drought and desertification, and greater attention to the productivity of dry lands, which now produce some 30% of the crops consumed around the world. Jordan also stressed the vulnerability of dry areas of the developing world to droughts and unreliable water supplies. Morocco stated that the effects of climate change produce a cause-and-effect relationship that demonstrates the link connecting food security, climate change, and efforts to combat its consequences, such as desertification. Uganda described national efforts to promote agricultural-sector development and food security, before saying that the impact of climate change, such as drought and flooding, was responsible for crop failure in sub-Saharan Africa. Noting the increase in the number of people suffering from chronic hunger despite continuing population increases, the US highlighted the importance of such cross-cutting issues as gender, environment and climate change. Bangladesh, associating with the G77 and the Group of LDCs, and Saint Lucia, called for responding to the challenge of climate change while keeping the focus on food production.

Some speakers addressed the role of agriculture in mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Underlining the close link connecting food security, agricultural development and climate change, Nepal stressed the need to focus on adaptation and mitigation, as well as the management of water, land, soil and other natural resources, including biodiversity. Peru called for measures to help rural populations adapt to, and mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and its consequences on economic growth and food security. Belgium, on behalf of the EU, underscored the importance of reinforcing the resilience of agricultural systems in the face of climate change. Ethiopia expressed his support for the work of the High-level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis, emphasizing that building the capacity of smaller economies to adapt to the impact of climate change reduced the risk of food insecurity and the demand for humanitarian action. Underlining that many countries in Southeast Asia had been devastated by cyclones, storms and continuing heavy rains, Thailand expressed the hope that the climate change dimension of food security be investigated further. Uganda urged "those who bear the historical responsibility for climate change" to provide support for adaptation in vulnerable countries and regions. Underlining that only 34% of its land had appropriate irrigation systems and emphasizing the vulnerability of the national agriculture to climate change, Peru stated that floods, drought and storms were among the negative consequences of climate change. He called for national disaster and climate change risk-management systems to reduce the impact on food security.

On the mitigation potential of agriculture, Belgium, on behalf of the EU, stressed the important mitigation potential of environmentally, socially and economically, sustainable agricultural development and land management, calling for the further exploration of incentives to reward the provision of environmental services to ensure full exploitation of existing synergies. Malawi indicated that through an agriculture-based climate change mitigation framework developed by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the Heads of State had agreed to establish an inter-ministerial mechanism to bring together agriculture, environment and water Ministers. The representative of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) underscored that sustainable agriculture could help mitigate the impacts of climate change, noting that alternative crops could offer significant prospects of carbon sequestration.

On financial issues, Malawi stated that the African continent was not adequately resourced to address the challenge of climate change, adding that Africa's ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change depended on the availability of both financial resources and the transfer of technology. Noting that financing for development within the region was limited, Guyana stressed the need for higher and more consistent levels of financing, particularly with regard to climate change adaptation, and called for a multilateral trading system that took greater account of the special needs of small vulnerable economies. [UN Press Release]