OUR food systems and the entire food chain need to profoundly change in order to prevent the current rising temperatures from increasing to catastrophic levels.
This was the key message of the side event ‘Climate is changing – Shouldn’t the food systems change too?’ hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), at the Pacific and Koronivia Pavilion in Katowice, Poland.
The Pavilion is located inside the venue at Area E of the Twenty-fourth Conference of Parties (COP24) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, now taking place in Katowice, Poland from 2 to 14 December.
A number of side events at the Pacific and Koronivia Pavilion have a particular focus on agriculture, which is one of the three key themes of the Pavilion. The Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) was adopted last year at COP23 in 2017, during Fiji’s Presidency of the UNFCCC COP.
Deputy Director of the FAO Climate and Environment Division, Zitouni Ould-dada, opened the event with an emphasis on the importance of agriculture and food security in the climate change agenda, noting FAO is expected to play a key role providing technical advice to its member countries by supporting their involvement in the negotiations of COP24.
Climate change and agriculture impact each other, and both occur on a global scale. Climate change affects agriculture through altered climate and weather patterns such as increased rainfall, extreme heat waves, periods of drought, and fluctuating temperatures. Agriculture in turn affects climate change through the impact to and removal of natural biodiversity and ecosystems when land is cleared for farming and, or livestock, as well as through the increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of agriculture and food systems.
“Agriculture has never been in harmony with nature. As farmers we do not live in harmony with nature, because nature never produces surpluses of food or produce. And farmers need to produce enough surplus to feed the population,” said guest speaker and farmer Dr Theo de Jager, President of World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO).
“Farmers in general have a special feeling for nature – we live in nature, we make our life in nature, and as a result we need to restore what we take out of it. Every farmer who produces livestock knows what the caring capacity is for land – what is the caring capacity of our planet? How much food, plants and livestock can we take from our planet without destroying it?”
The global food systems are not fit for an era of climate change and the current climate change agenda, according to Teresa Anderson, Policy and Communications Officer on Resilience and Climate for Action Aid International.
“Our food systems globally are not fit for an era of climate change. Our food systems are quite messed up and distorted. It does not feed the people who need food the most, nor does it provide equitable lifestyles for farmers and small communities. And this has created a perfect storm of a disastrous food systems and catastrophic climate change,” said Anderson.
Limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, or even further to 1.5 degrees in accordance with the Paris Agreement will require a complete change of our current global food systems – from farmers to large corporations, consumers and governments, policies and legislation, in order to not only solve our greatest global challenges within agriculture, such as food waste. “But also ultimately, to solve and prevent the current global crisis that is climate change,” said Anderson.
The Pacific and Koronivia Pavilion is open from 2 to 14 December at COP24 in Katowice, Poland. It is a Pacific partnership between the COP23 Presidency of the Republic of Fiji, with support from the New Zealand Government and CROP Plus regional agencies.
The Pavilion will be jointly managed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) and the agencies of the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific, namely the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) through the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF).