Press Alert - November 29th 2011

Christian representatives to link food security and climate change at UN conference

As government representatives gather in Durban, South Africa for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, a number of Christian organizations are highlighting the links between food security and climate change. 


Members of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance's (EAA) Food for Life Campaign will be engaged throughout the conference, being held 28 November – 9 December. They are drawing attention to the need for policies to reduce emissions from the agricultural sector and to support small-scale food producers and agro-ecological food production with the financial and technological means required for vulnerable communities to become more resilient to a changing climate.

The agriculture sector is responsible for 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, food production is vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has projected significant reduction in agricultural yields, and the United Nations Development Programme has estimated that an additional 600 million people may face chronic hunger by 2080 due directly to climate change.

There is an urgent need to improve land management, maintain soil carbon content, and use water and fertilizer more efficiently, as these actions would strengthen the ability of small holder farmers to adapt to climate change, while simultaneously cutting emissions and maintaining or improving agricultural yields.

Side event to focus on food and climate change

To draw attention to this issue, EAA, together with ACT Alliance, will host a side event in Durban on climate change and food security entitled 'Can we achieve food security in a world challenged by climate change?' The side event will take place from 13:15-14:45 on Saturday, 3 Dec 2011 in the Blyde River room at the Durban Exhibition Centre (DEC).

This event will present recommendations on the basis of lessons learnt from the Horn of Africa, which is currently experiencing one of the worst hunger crises in decades. Expert speakers will provide an overview of the specific challenges to food security and highlight opportunities for increasing support to smallholder farmers.

Speakers for this session will be drawn from among EAA and ACT Alliance member organisations, academia and negotiators. Mr Mattias Söderberg, Senior climate advocacy advisor at DanChurchAid, will open the discussion by presenting the challenges of mitigating greenhouse gases in agriculture and the risks of inclusion of agriculture in carbon markets. Rev. Dr Tolbert Jallah, Secretary-General of the Fellowship of Christian Councils in West Africa, and member of the EAA Food Strategy Group, will present the need for smart investment in agro-ecological food production and why it is vital for climate mitigation and adaptation as well as long-term food security. Rev. Jallah will also highlight the critical role that small-holder farmers play in agriculture and the rural economy.

A panel of respondents to the two initial presentations will be comprised of Dr. Fredericus Hermanus Johannes Rijkenberg, Professor Emeritus from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, former Head of the Agriculture Department and member of the Caritas South Africa Advisory Board for the Food Security Program; Dr. George Wamukoya, Climate Change Advisor for the Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA) and negotiator from South Africa; and Mr. Hayden Montgomery, New Zealand's lead negotiator for agriculture.

The goal of this event will be to raise awareness about the importance of agriculture in the current UNFCCC negotiations with the aim to inform recommendations for negotiators on adaptation and mitigation policies. Actions on these two fronts are essential to avoiding hunger and promoting long-term food security, particularly in developing countries.

For more information contact:

Sara Speicher
+44 7821 860 723
Christine Campeau


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