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Food security links us all

Written by Sonja Vermeulen, Head of Research of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security.

Australia, China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, France, UK, USA, Mexico, Brazil – what do these countries have in common?

Quite a lot, according to their 13 Commissioners who today release the summary report Achieving food security in the face of climate change.  The Commissioners, all high-level scientists who are well linked to policy processes, have spent the past nine months reviewing the evidence on what actions have the best chance of creating the agriculture and food supplies we need in the coming years of rapidly changing climates, demographics and dietary preferences.

The challenges and opportunities facing our farms, food and health are global – no longer delineated between “developed” and “developing” countries.  Yield losses under climate change are anticipated in Australia, Bangladesh and Brazil.  Rising food prices concern consumers in China, France and Mexico.  Malnourishment is a problem in the USA as well as Ethiopia.  A country like India has millions of people underweight while other millions deal with obesity and late-onset diabetes.

On the positive side, much can be done.  The Commissioners’ summary report provides case studies from each of the countries and regions to show how policies that support affordable food, viable farm livelihoods and healthy environments can be brought to scale.  They show clearly how climate change is a global phenomenon that nonetheless will be felt and tackled locally.  Learning among countries will be one of our most powerful tools.

A “safe space” exists in which we can grow enough nutritious food while keeping up with climatic changes and limiting agriculture’s contribution to the greenhouse gas problem.  Under seven key messages, the Commissioners propose a wide-ranging set of pragmatic actions that provide us the means to navigate the safe space.  Early next year they will give us an expanded version of the report.  We at CCAFS – having hosted but not steered the independent Commission – thank them immensely for their wise insights, broad worldview and sheer hard work.  Read the summary now and watch this space for more.

The Commission is funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security and the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development (GDPRD). the Commission’s recommendations will be presented on 3 December at Agriculture and Rural Development Day.


Image: Lucia Boki fetches water at a borehole the village of Bilinyang, near Juba. (Photo: Arne Hoel).