Fighting hunger in a changing climate

How can agriculture respond?

Recommendations for the UNFCCC Delegates in Durban from Leading Scientists in the BRICS Countries, Indonesia, and the United States

Climate change is a major threat to sustainable food security. Temperatures are rising, precipitation patterns are changing, and extreme weather events are occurring more frequently. As a result, producing enough to feed a growing population is becoming more challenging. Everyone in the agriculture sector must adapt—and quickly. Delays now will raise the costs in the future.

While general trends are clear—for example, a northward shift in the production of rice and maize in the northern hemisphere—major uncertainties remain in the distribution and magnitude of climate change outcomes. What are the location-specific consequences? What are the best techniques for farmers to grow their crops in an environment that could be either wetter or drier; a rainy season that could be either earlier or later; or on lands with the possibility of either flooding or droughts? What is the potential role for agriculture in reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere? At a November 2011 conference in Beijing, leading scientists from around the world gathered to present new research that helps answer these questions.

At the International Conference on Climate Change and Food Security, organized by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the International Food Policy Research Institute, scientists from the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) plus Indonesia and the United States reported results on the food security and climate change challenges facing their countries. Based on the research and data needs identified in their reports, the authors recommend that the negotiators at the 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) hosted in Durban, South Africa, establish a work program that includes (a) strengthening public sector agricultural research in 12 priority areas and (b) increasing the amount, appropriateness, and accessibility of spatial data.

Published date: 
2011
Publisher: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
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