Food, glorious food; humans can’t have enough of it, but the cruel irony of this age of climate change is that humans are also partly responsible for the lack of it.
With human activities pinpointed as the reason for increasing global temperatures that in turn have sparked longer droughts, fiercer storms and evaporating water supplies, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has called on global leaders to address food security as one of the biggest issues related to climate change.
As the United Nations (UN) agency tasked to combat international hunger, the FAO made the call on World Food Day 2016 with a global message that goes: “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.”
Celebrated each year on October 16, which is also the FAO’s birthday, World Food Day this year also shines a light on the plight of the people who produce the food and yet suffer the most from climate change.
“The world’s poorest – many of whom are farmers, fishers and pastoralists (sheep or cattle farmers) -- are being hit hardest by higher temperatures and an increasing frequency in weather-related disasters,” the agency says.
The FAO notes that the world’s population is growing steadily, and expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. To meet such a heavy demand, the UN body says agriculture and food systems “will need to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change and become more resilient, productive and sustainable.”
“This is the only way that we can ensure the wellbeing of ecosystems and rural populations and reduce emissions,” the FAO says.
Growing food in a sustainable way, according to the UN org, means adopting practices that produce more with less in the same area of land and use natural resources wisely.
“It also means reducing food losses before the final product or retail stage through a number of initiatives including better harvesting, storage, packing, transport, infrastructure, market mechanisms, as well as institutional and legal frameworks,” the FAO adds.
World Food Day 2016 and its focus on worsening weather comes a month before the UN holds its next Climate Change Conference, COP 22, from November 7 to 18 in Marrakech, Morocco. There, the FAO will call on countries to address food and agriculture in their climate action plans and invest more in rural development.
“By strengthening the resilience of smallholder farmers, we can guarantee food security for the planet’s increasingly hungry global population and also reduce emissions (that lead to climate change),” the UN org says.