Stories tagged: food security

Catherine Bertini: Ending Hunger Is Within Our Grasp

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In this guest blog post, Catherine Bertini, distinguished fellow, Global Food and Agriculture at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and professor of public administration and international affairs, Maxwell School, Syracuse University, reflects on the progress made in tackling malnutrition, and the challenge that remains to achieve zero hunger.

After years of incremental progress in the fight against poverty and malnutrition, eradicating hunger is now within our grasp. The world is changing, and we face growing challenges and new risks—but we’ve also never been as well prepared to meet these challenges. Ending hunger will require action, engagement, commitment, and collaboration from all sectors, across generations, and from every corner of the world.

At the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Global Food Security Symposium in Washington, DC on March 29 and 30, top visionaries from every sector will gather to generate the productive dialogue and actions necessary to ensure strides in global food security and agricultural development. At the event, the Council will release its new report, Stability in the 21st Century: Global Food Security for Peace and Prosperity, which outlines the progress that’s been made to advance food and nutrition security, emerging challenges, and strategies for engagement by national governments, the private sector, and the United States.

The progress is clear: since 1990 global hunger and extreme poverty have fallen significantly, and agricultural production has, on average, doubled. The world is less poor, less hungry, and healthier than it was just a few decades ago.

Advancing food security promotes national security interests, as hunger and unstable food prices can spur unrest and instability, sometimes with widespread ramifications. Investments in agricultural development and food security can transform economies, building new markets locally, nationally, regionally, and globally.

We are better equipped than ever to end hunger (Photo: FMSC Distribution Partner – Haiti)

But challenges remain, and new risks are emerging—which we must be prepared to meet. Even with the gains we’ve made, nearly 800 million people are still chronically hungry, and over 700 million live in extreme poverty. Gains in agricultural production have occurred unevenly—in fact, some countries have seen their productivity decline in recent years. Increasingly urban populations and the growing demographic youth bulge put new pressures on global food systems, and volatile weather patterns and natural resource pressures will test our ability to meet growing demand for food safely and sustainably.

Meeting these challenges means we must fully leverage research and development in order to respond, whether on the farm or throughout the supply chain. The expertise and knowledge from national and global research institutions, from universities to the CGIAR system, must reach and equip producers within low-income countries’ agricultural systems. The power of the private sector must also be unleashed to meet these challenges, as new platforms for cross-sectoral collaboration bring its strengths to the forefront of the fight against hunger. Innovations in investment and finance have the potential to unlock impact and finance at scale—and they must, as the world’s farmers face an estimated $200 billion gap in unmet financing. Strong leadership by policymakers will also be essential, including those in donor countries, like the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), as well as in rising global powers and within low-income countries.

A farmer at work near Bejling village, Himachal Pradesh, India (Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT)

Importantly, these efforts will require the commitment, innovation, and expertise of the next generation of leaders, who will drive progress forward. As youth populations continue to grow rapidly in emerging economies, they can make tremendous contributions to development, including in agriculture and the broader food system.

The Council’s Symposium will highlight the voices and expertise of this next generation of leaders in agriculture, food security, and nutrition. 20 exceptional students from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Honduras, India, Nigeria, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, and the United States comprise the Global Food Security Symposium 2017 Next Generation Delegation. Students from around the world will also join us digitally as Social Media Ambassadors, promoting engagement online and bringing their voices to the digital discussion surrounding the event.

I hope that you will add your voice to this important discussion. Watch for the release of the new report, Stability in the 21st Century, on March 30. And, tune into the symposium livestream on March 29 and 30 and share your questions and observations for panelists via Twitter, using #GlobalAg.

The continued existence of hunger and malnutrition defies logic in an age of progress and modernity. We need everyone at the table to solve problems and innovate—across geographies, generations, and disciplines—so please do your part to shape the dialogue by joining the conversation on this critical issue.  Together, we can end hunger, once and for all.

Bernard Giraud: Building Functional Forests that Help Indian Tribes Thrive

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In this guest post, the President and Co-Founder of the Livelihoods Venture Bernard Giraud  describes how restoring forests with the Adivasi tribes in India has helped tackle issues from poverty to poor nutrition.

The Adivasi people, living in the Araku Valley in Eastern India, are considered some of the most disadvantaged in the country. Once a community that lived off the forests, the erosion and degradation of the land during the British settlements left them in poverty and with few land rights. The marginalized area – with an altitude of 1200m and average annual rainfall of 1300mm – was characterized by low women’s literacy rates, high infant and maternal mortality, and low agricultural productivity. Continue reading

DEC62016
International Quinoa Conference 2016

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6th-8th December 2016

Dubai, UAE

Climate change is making it increasingly difficult to produce enough major cereal crops like wheat, rice, barley and corn to feed the growing population. Quinoa can be a valuable alternative, helping to tackle hunger, malnutrition and poverty as well as improving diets. Leading scientists, practitioners and decision-makers from the public and private sectors will meet to discuss opportunities for collaboration as well as showcasing the latest developments in research, production and trade. Read more >>

Bruce Campbell: What Does the Paris Agreement Mean for Food & Agriculture?

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The Paris Climate Agreement entered into force last week, heralding a major milestone in international action on climate change, and an ambitious target to contain global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, in this century. Over 100 countries, which account for nearly 70% of global emissions, have ratified the Agreement, and are now obliged to deliver on their commitments and convert their plans into action. But unless countries act decisively and meaningfully, and increase their ambitions over time, this will not be enough to safeguard food and farming.

Figure 1. Gap between the current collective ambition of national climate plans (known as NDCs) and the global 2°C goal. Source: Adapted from Rogelj et al. 2016 in Vermeulen 2016.

Figure 1. Gap between the current collective ambition of national climate plans (known as NDCs) and the global 2°C goal. Source: Adapted from Rogelj et al. 2016 in Vermeulen 2016.

Future food security in a changing climate
The Paris Agreement is made up of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which are climate action plans developed by countries, outlining their priorities and measures. The INDCs of countries overwhelmingly put agriculture the top of the list for climate action; over 60% of submitted INDCs included mitigation in agriculture. And of the countries which included adaptation, over 90% included adaptation in agriculture. African countries in particular have expressed a clear desire to tackle these issues: 98% of African countries included adaptation actions in agriculture and 68% included mitigation actions in agriculture.

Figure 2. Inclusion of agriculture in climate pledges (INDCs). Source: Richards et al 2016 in Vermeulen et al 2016.

Figure 2. Inclusion of agriculture in climate pledges (INDCs). Source: Richards et al 2016 in Vermeulen et al 2016.

However, effective implementation will depend on the availability of financial, technological and capacity support. In fact, some countries have made several commitments conditional upon the provision of support.

Mobilizing support for climate actions

Fortunately, the Paris Agreement has set out robust frameworks to provide much-needed support and the UNFCCC’s finance mechanism, particularly the Green Climate Fund, will play a key role: US$10.3 billion have been pledged to the Fund, and the Fund has committed US$ 1.2 billion to 27 projects. But this still falls short of the ambition to mobilize US$ 100 billion per year by 2020.

In addition to financial support, the Paris Agreement will put in place new frameworks for providing technological support and enhancing capacity, which are the crucial building blocks for successful implementation of climate actions.

Science-based ambitions

The Paris Agreement obliges countries to become more ambitious in their commitments over time, with follow up Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) due in 2020 and 2025. With just 4 years left to the next NDC deadline, scientific organisations like CGIAR and its partners have an important role to play in providing technical support help countries put climate adaptation and mitigation into practice in the agriculture sector, and to distill lessons from implementation. These actions include helping countries set up early warning systems; improve water management in agricultural systems; adopt lower-emissions livestock practices; apply fertilizers more efficiently; and improve soil carbon sequestration. Decades of agriculture research can support these efforts.

To help countries stay on track and inform their future commitments, the UNFCCC will take stock of progress every 5 years starting in 2023. These ‘global stocktakes’ would measure collective progress towards global targets, looking at the whole spectrum of actions including mitigation, adaptation, financing, and technology development and transfer. The stocktakes will also be informed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), thus ensuring that the latest climate science provides inputs into future commitments.

Measuring progress is a huge and underplayed challenge. Countries are required to regularly report on their emissions and implementation efforts, and the Agreement is developing an enhanced transparency and accountability framework which would harmonize reporting and verification requirements. The global science community can facilitate this. For example, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) has developed a Climate-Smart Agriculture programming and indicator tool, building on the wealth of approaches used by major development agencies in monitoring projects. The tool helps measure outcomes related to increased productivity, food security, adaptation, resilience, and mitigation, and could be instrumental in helping countries measure progress towards established targets.

Reality check

While the Paris Agreement represents a huge opportunity for climate action, and the early ratification offers much promise, success should not be viewed as a given. We have already reached the crucial threshold of globally averaged concentration of carbon dioxide of 400 parts per million, according to the World Meteorological Organization. In fact, 2016 has turned out to be the warmest year since modern records began, according to NASA. Currently, country plans under the Paris Agreement fall short of keeping the world within the 2°C warming limit [see figure 1].

All this means that action is needed now in all sectors, including the agriculture sector. To meet the 2°C goal of the Paris Agreement, researchers estimate that agriculture emissions must be reduced by 1 gigatonne carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2030. Current interventions can only contribute 21-40% of this goal.

We cannot afford to rest on the success of Paris. Climate negotiators in Marrakech must be alert to the urgent need for meaningful action and countries must immediately get to work on implementing the Paris Agreement. A focus on agriculture, with accompanying funds and support, will help the sector transition to support global food security in a sustainable manner. Over 550 million smallholder farmers depend on it.

This post originally appeared on Huffington Post. Featured image photo credit: Neil Palmer CCAFS/CIAT

NOV62016
1st International Agrobiodiversity Congress (IAC)

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6th-9th November 2016

New Delhi, India

The IAC aims to provide a common platform for stakeholders, including farmers, scientists, policymakers and industry leaders to share their experiences and knowledge in agrobiodiversity management and genetic resource conservation. The Congress is being hosted by the Indian Society of Plant Genetic Resources and Bioversity International, and co-organized by CIMMYT and the Borlaug Institute for South Asia. Read more >>

Bonnie McClafferty: How to Harness Agriculture for Nutrition

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In this guest post, Bonnie McClafferty, Director of Agriculture for Nutrition at GAIN shares her views about the challenges and solutions faced when bringing agriculture and nutrition together to increase food security in our ever-changing world.

When asked how can we feed the people on our planet with diverse, safe and nutritious foods now and in the future, there is no simple answer. There are many challenges that we face, such as how do we cater to 5 billion people living in cities by 2030 – all needing access to nutritious foods in a sustainable way? How do we ensure that smallholder farmers are able to feed themselves and their families’ diverse and nutritious diets, while working hard to supply the global food system? We also have to face up to climate change and the continual impact it has on the availability of nutrients within the food system. We also mustn’t forget that availability and affordability are crucial if we want to reach the most vulnerable people worldwide and tackle the complex issue of malnutrition in all its forms.  Continue reading