A hotter planet will be hungrier, says development agency World Vision

(September 22, New York, NY): World leaders meeting at the United Nations today were urged to invest in agriculture to save hundreds of millions of people from hunger as a result of climate change.

“Stepped up investment in world agriculture would mean fewer communities suffering from the worst impacts of climate change on water availability and dwindling crop yields,” said Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision Australia.

“The food crisis of the past two years already has pushed a further 100 million people back into extreme poverty, and led to civil unrest in more than 60 countries.”

The impacts of climate change means developed country aid must seek to beat the 0.7 per cent of GNI benchmark. The recent food crisis of the past two years pushed many people back into poverty. By June 2008, wheat prices were 173 per cent higher, maize 199 per cent and rice 266 per cent up on the Index Mundi. However, falling world commodity prices in the past year have not translated into cheaper food in many poor countries.

The UNDP estimates that by 2080, the number of malnourished people may increase by 600 million, and the number of people facing water scarcity by 1.8 billion.

World Vision also urged G20 meetings this week to ensure that the $20 billion food security initiative first proposed at July's G8 summit was fulfilled.

Most G20 countries, the African Union Commission and several multilateral organizations endorsed the World Hunger Initiative's comprehensive approach to hunger and malnutrition, announced at the Group of Eight summit in L'Aquila, Italy.

Poverty and a Parching Planet, a report released today by World Vision Australia recommended partnerships between government, nongovernment agencies and the private sector to 
• improve the productivity of subsistence farmers and smallholders 
• increase the capacity of the agriculture sector to adapt to climate change 
• increase the volume and effectiveness of agricultural R&D to achieve greater food and water security.

Funding from the developed world must be sufficient to produce a large and durable improvement in food and water security, especially in the most exposed developing countries. The use of financial risk sharing such as disaster insurance, catastrophe bonds, weather or index-based derivatives, and micro-insurance, can reduce the climate-induced uncertainty facing farmers in developing countries 
Improved carbon trading and compliance mechanisms, and a higher carbon prices would assist in delivering funding to developing countries.

World Vision’s project at Humbo in Ethiopia is a case study in community-based approaches showing that improved food security can be combined with actions to mitigate greenhouse gases through reforestation.

“Forest restoration has resulted in increased production of wood and tree products, including honey, medicine, fibre, fruit and wildlife that contribute to household economies,” said Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision Australia.

“Improved land management has stimulated grass growth, that provides fodder for livestock and has been cut and sold as an additional source of income.”

World Vision will release its next report on Disaster Risk Reduction at the UNFCCC negotiations next week in Bangkok.

Contact – World Vision Australia - Bill Pheasant  +61 413 701 028 

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