The Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change:
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, said just before the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change in December 2009, "Climate change is the leading ecologic, economic and geopolitical issue of the 21st Century and has even the potential to rewrite the global equation for prosperity, development and peace." After this promising Summit, there was generally a feeling of disappointment worldwide over its poor outcome. The major disappointment was the putative failure of the Conference to reach a binding agreement to deal with climate change, especially that the 191 countries, including an unprecedented number of heads of state, were expected to agree in Copenhagen to set long-term climate change objectives and common emission reduction targets, amongst others. The post- Copenhagen era calls for the reinvention of both approaches and practices with regard to research, innovation and policy. The Conference will be a golden opportunity to stimulate debate and initiatives in this direction.
The Global Food Crisis and the Fragility of Governing Earth's Food Security:
The food crisis that continues to shake the global community, has highlighted the fragility of the Earth’s food security, the seriousness of hunger’s consequences, and the inefficiency of the range of policies and programs devoted to achieving sustainable food security. Meantime, food security and economic crises have highlighted both the urgent need and the potential for developing sustainable agri-food systems. Over one billion people, or one out of six globally, do not have access to adequate food and nutrition today. By 2050, the global population will grow to a projected 9.2 billion people, and demand for agricultural products is expected to double. In the intervening years, the agri-food systems will face increasing constraints and volatility driven by resource scarcity and climate change, raising the risk of production shortfalls. While substantial gains can be realized through improved technologies, policies, infrastructure and investment, it will require an exceptional level of collaboration among stakeholders in the agricultural value chain including, individual farmers, consumers and entrepreneurs; governments and companies; civil society and multilateral organizations. Moreover, there is presently a worldwide conviction that eliminating hunger is not only essential on the ethical and humanitarian level, but is also a prerequisite for economic and social development. The last events have shown that food security is also a required condition for world peace and security. Regrettably, despite all international commitments, the latest figures on world hunger and malnutrition reveal that the present situation is even more worrying than before. And despite the financial constraints faced by many concerned countries, agricultural investment and safety nets remain the key parts of an effective response to reduce food insecurity both now and in the future. Meantime, the fact that hunger was increasing even before the latest food and economic crises suggests that present solutions are insufficient and that a right-to-food and a food sovereignty approach has an important role to play in eradicating food insecurity.
Depletion of Global Marine Biodiversity: Implications
in terms of Food Security and Ecosystem Services:
The sea covers more than two thirds of the globe and is critically important for biological diversity, commercial activities (such as fishing and tourism) and for their role in climate regulation. But despite its crucial importance for the survival of Humanity in term of food security and ecosystem services, global marine biodiversity and fish stocks are in jeopardy, increasingly pressured by overfishing, environmental degradation, and the impacts from human-induced climate change. To reverse this trend, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation had already called for the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), but the magnitude of the current problem of overfishing and environmental pollution is often overlooked, given the competing claims of deforestation, desertification, energy resource exploitation and other biodiversity depletion dilemmas. The rapid growth in demand for fish and fish products is leading to fish prices increasing faster. As a result, fisheries investments have become more attractive to both entrepreneurs and governments, much to the detriment of small-scale fishing and fishing communities all over the world and the sustainable marine biodiversity and ecosystems.
Climate Change, Plant Biodiversity, and Forest Ecosystems:
Loss of biodiversity is currently accelerating despite a global convention committing governments to halt the decline. Many experts say species and habitats are disappearing so fast and there is an urgent need to focus on research that helps scientists and policy-makers understand what's behind the loss. Conscious of the challenge, the UN has recently declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB). Throughout the year countless initiatives will be organized to disseminate information, promote the protection of biodiversity and encourage all interested parties to take direct action to reduce the constant loss of biological diversity worldwide. It is now widely recognized that climate change and biodiversity are interconnected.
Climate change will be an important factor behind the genetic erosion in the future, threatening both the survival of individual species and disrupting the interaction between the different elements of biodiversity and agri-food systems. These interactions provide "services" - such as pollination, soil fertility and biological control against plants and animals diseases – which are essential for food production. Small farmers will be toughly affected by the alteration of these services. This irreversible loss of biodiversity will have serious impact on global food security. Therefore, biodiversity can be preserved and exploited to help food and agriculture to adapt to change climate as long as coordinated efforts are taken nationally and internationally. In addition, the forest ecosystem is currently considered as a key factor for rural welfare (especially for rural population who depend on forest ecosystem services) and climate change mitigation. As the forests enable large concentrations of carbon, deforestation and forest degradation are presently contributing to the acceleration of the climate change process. The ability of forests to store carbon depends not only on the quantity but also on quality: this ability is between 25 and 50 times greater for a natural forest compared to a monoculture forest (interdependency between biodiversity and quality forest). Meantime, CC makes additional pressures on forest ecosystems: i.e. the Mediterranean region is considered as one of the most vulnerable areas to CC (for example, Morocco has lost between 1960 and 2007 an annual average of 0.05 percent of the total forest area due to fires).
In general terms, conserving natural terrestrial, freshwater and marine biodiversity and restoring degraded ecosystems is essential for the overall goals of both the CBD and the UNFCCC, because ecosystems play a key role in the global carbon cycle and in adapting to climate change, while also providing a wide range of ecosystem services that are essential for human well-being and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
For More Context See: The World Wide Web Portal of the 2009 International Conference on the Integration of Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in the Context of Climate Change, the Energy Crisis and Food Insecurity.
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