Famine, drought and food security are set to dominate the agenda of a climate change summit hosted by the Irish Government today.
Recent reports from China and the USA indicate the production of staple foods including rice, wheat and soya are likely to be hit in the coming decades due to increasing incidences of extreme weather.
Experts warn that as the world’s population and temperatures rise, so added stress will be placed on regions such as the Lower Mekong Basin, which millions rely on for their supply of rice.
Speaking ahead of the Hunger, Nutrition and Climate Justice conference organised by the Mary Robinson Foundation, Frank Rijsberman from the CGIAR crop research centre warned the issue urgently needed to be addressed by governments.
“This meeting is an opportunity to put food security through climate smart agriculture at the top of the political agenda,” he said.
“And while doing so, let’s make sure our research agendas continue the G8’s commitment to the world’s poor, by focusing on the needs of smallholder farmers – they have the least capacity to adapt and will be the most affected by climate change.”
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The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) predicts demand for food will grow by 60% up to 2050, catering for a population that could hit 9 billion.
While agricultural techniques were revolutionised in the last century, allowing millions to escape starvation, the FAO says current trends indicate rising prices and more frequent price spikes.
Fragile soils, inadequate supplies of water and competing demands for land are blamed, together with climate change and increased demand for biofuels.
Organisers hope the summit will generate a number of ‘recommendations’ on steps needed to be taken while governments review the UN Millennium Development Goals.
“This meeting presents us with a golden opportunity to influence and enrich the process of drawing a roadmap for what comes after the UN’s Millennium Development Goals,” said WFP Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin.
“Ensuring that people everywhere have access to nutritious food is a foundation for future prosperity particularly when it underpins our approach to communities that are feeling the impact of climate change.”