Climate is Changing -- Food and Agriculture Must Too

Climate change is a critical challenge for food production around the world, and the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change are also the most food-insecure.

Each year, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) celebrates World Food Day in October to commemorate the founding of the Organization in 1945. This year, the theme was “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.” The Director General of FAO emphasized that agriculture must be adapted to climate change in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger. 

The United States is leading global efforts to address the threat of climate change and to promote food security. When President Obama signed the Paris Climate Agreement in September, he provided the momentum needed for the Agreement to reach a critical milestone -- the threshold for entry into force was achieved just before World Food Day on October 5. The Paris Agreement recognizes the importance of food security and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the impacts of climate change.

In commemoration of World Food Day in October, U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome help organize participants for a Zero Hunger Run organized by UN Food Agencies in Rome- the FAO, the World Food Programme, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. (Photo: US Mission to UN Agencies in Rome)

To commemorate World Food Day, the UN Food Agencies in Rome--the FAO, the World Food Programme, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development--held a Zero Hunger Run last month for World Food Day. With the help of 100 American embassy employees and American university student volunteers, the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome used this opportunity to raise awareness of the United States’ contributions to the work of the– Rome-based UN Agencies in fighting hunger. The proceeds of the run will fund an FAO project in Uganda to build the capacity of teachers and students to cope with the effects climate change and its impacts on food security there.

Following World Food Day, the FAO hosted the Committee on World Food Security. The U.S. delegation, led by the Director of the Peace Corps, Carrie Hessler-Radelet, presented the U.S. Government‘s new Global Food Security Strategy. The new strategy, which recognizes climate change as one of the greatest threats to food security, builds on previous global food security efforts to present an even more integrated whole-of-government approach. This whole-of-government approach was reflected in the composition of the U.S. delegation: the U.S. Departments of State and Agriculture, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Peace Corps, were all well represented. As Director Hessler-Radelet said, “No single government, no single nation, and no single sector can address the challenges of global food security by working alone. We must all work together in true partnership to reach those most in need.”

The U.S. delegation, led by the Director of the Peace Corps, Carrie Hessler-Radelet, to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on World Food Security held in October. (Photo: US Mission to UN Agencies in Rome)

The U.S. commitment to eradicating hunger was formalized and intensified earlier this summer with the passing of the historic Global Food Security Act in July. The Global Food Security Act, which received wide, bi-partisan Congressional support, will secure the gains made in positioning the United States as a leader in addressing food security. The Global Food Security Act will support existing initiatives, such as Feed the Future, and ensure they endure. Feed the Future has incorporated climate smart agriculture practices to achieve sustainable increases in productivity, improve adaptation to climate change, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions where appropriate.

The global goal for achieving Zero Hunger is 2030 and cannot be reached without addressing climate change. By addressing both climate change and food security, the end of global poverty and hunger might be within reach during our lifetimes.

About the Author: Thomas M. Duffy is Charge D’Affaires at the United States Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome

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