Thursday, 10 December 2009

FAO Climate Change and Food Security

Sacco vuoto non può star in piedi.
An empty sack cannot stand upright

Just returning from a workshop with the world agriculture leaders. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the US Agricultural Minister Tom Vilsack among others were there to discuss in a panel about the role of agriculture in these COP15 climate change talks.

Danish Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Eva Kjer Hansen spoke about agriculture as both a challenge and a solution in climate change. Agriculture produces 14% of Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) with another 17% being produced through 'land use change' (converting land from forests and fields to agricultural lands - this contributes to 90% of all deforestation by the way). She went on to say that we need to address hunger and climate change simultaneously, that these are the same project and that organic agriculture can play a large role in this.

Next we heard from Director of Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) Gilberto Câmara who spoke of the fact that with the projected climate change scenarios Brazil will have Savannah instead of the Amazon by 2050 - that the coffee will need to be imported from Argentina and that Brazil is doing everything it can to change that. He told us that Brazil will cut emissions by 20% below 2005 levels by 2050, that they will use 55% renewable energies (up from 46% today).

Ajay Vashee president of the International Federation of Agriculture Producers (IFAP) (600 million family farmers member organization) spoke about the problems of hunger, loss of biodiversity disease and the social and economic implications of climate change. He spoke about the importance of access to carbon funds to small producers (or conglomerates of small producers), access to capacity building and income improvement. He pointed out that 1 out of 3 people in the world are farmers and 1/3 of the land surface is agricultural land, farmers play the largest role in human impact on nature therefore the rights of farmers should play a big role in the talks about climate change.

Jaques Dioff of FAO spoke briefly about the agriculture situation in the world. 1 in 6 is hungry, the world population will reach 9.1 billion by 2050 requiring a 70% increase in food production and that means a 100% increase in many developing countries. Making this change, he says, will require many billions of dollars, maybe even tens of billions, but in a world where we spend over 300 billion on arms we ought to be able to find the money. He warns that we should steer away from this movement toward biofuels, the production of biofuels will compete with the need to produce food and conserve water.

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack had a lot to say about agriculture from the US and agri-industry perspective. The party line here really seems to be that science and technology will save us, that we need more technological advancement and Dr. Norman Borlaug is our hero - and we should follow his vision so that other countries can have as much extra food as we do in the US. He did (possibly unknowingly) say some inspiring things about the need for more recognition of the role of soil in carbon sequestration. That is clearly in favor of organic.

So, that is it for now. The conference continues.

Cory's Dr Green Blog Posts:
Small is Beautiful
Give Organic a Chance
No Work Farming
Growing Organic

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