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Press Release: Future Food Security Requires Climate-Resilient Solutions

31. March 2014

    Urgent action is needed to promote resilient food systems that help farmers adapt to changing climate conditions and minimize agriculture’s impact on the planet, say Christian campaigners involved in the “Food for Life” campaign of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.


    Reacting to serious food security concerns raised in the report released on Sunday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, representatives of churches and Christian organizations with long experience in addressing hunger and food security at community level stress that long-term solutions must prioritize ecosystem-based models of agriculture and support for small-scale farmers.


    “This is a wake up call for governments to invest in the agricultural systems that are effective and sustainable far into the future. So far, solutions pushed at international level, sometimes under the guise of “climate smart agriculture,” will do more to increase company profits than provide lasting and achievable solutions for the small scale farmers and their communities who produce the vast majority of the world’s food,” says Emilie Johann, Climate Justice Policy Officer with CIDSE. “What’s needed – and what is most cost effective – is to invest in resilient food systems that ensure farmers’ access to local resources and markets, and strengthen their capacity to adapt to changing weather conditions.”


    The Food for Life Campaign promotes sustainable agroecological systems of food production which consider aspects such as soil health and wider use of crop varieties and local breeds, and combines traditional knowledge with modern technologies that are well adapted to the needs of smallholder farmers and respect the local context.


    “We cannot depend solely on technological solutions in the face of changing climatic conditions,” says Andrew Kang Bartlett, Associate for Hunger Concerns, Presbyterian Hunger Program, Presbyterian Church (USA). “We need resilient systems, and central to that are seeds that can adapt to changing local conditions, whereas GMOs, for instance, are developed with specific conditions in mind and cannot adapt without new investment and costs for the farmer.”


    Currently, food production is estimated to account for between 17% (direct emissions) and 32% (indirect emissions from land use changes, synthetic fertilizers, and others) of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.


    “Over the last decades, we have seen industrial models of agriculture prioritized in policies and business practices. These systems rely heavily on external inputs such as fertilizers, water, pesticides and genetically engineered seeds. While they have boosted production of food in the short term, it is also clear that these methods have severe environmental impacts and are not sustainable, neither for long term food security nor for the environment” says Christine Campeau, EAA's food campaign coordinator.


    Campaigners also highlight unsustainable consumption patterns and inefficiency in our food systems as major areas that must be addressed. Livestock production accounts for 70% of all agricultural land and 30% of the planet’s land surface and contributes to 18% of GHG emissions according to the FAO. Additional agricultural land being used for biofuel production reduces the land and natural resources available to ensure food security for all.


    An estimated 30-50% of all food produced globally is also wasted due to losses along the food supply chain from the point of production to point of consumption. Although, at a policy level, there is clear evidence and understanding of where food waste occurs, insufficient concrete action has been taken.



    “Food insecurity already impacts tragically on the lives of the poor. Hundreds of millions of people farm the land, fish in our seas, and care for livestock that feed the wealthy without their family and their community having sufficient nutritious food themselves,” says Angeline Munzara, Associate Director, Food and Livelihood Security Cluster, World Vision International. “This is about justice. This is about their future – and it is about a future for all of us.”


The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is a broad international network of churches and Christian organizations cooperating in advocacy on food and HIV and AIDS. The Alliance is based in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, see http://www.e-alliance.ch/

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