22 April 2016

Africa: To Fight Climate Change, Invest in Agriculture

press release

New York — Rural poor and smallholder farmers among hardest hit - FAO Deputy Director-General at signing of Paris Agreement

In addition to reducing poverty and hunger, agriculture can play a crucial role in making the response to climate change responsible and more effective, Maria-Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General for Natural Resources said today.

Agriculture can help reduce the impact of climate change; thus fostering resilience among communities, she said during a High-Level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the UN Headquarters. Semedo was in New York to attend the signing ceremony of the Paris Climate Change Agreement as well as other high level events.

Some 175 countries today signed the historic accord -- agreed last December in the French capital -- at a ceremony at UN headquarters hosted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The Agreement recognizes "the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the impacts of climate change".

It also highlights the need to "increase the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience (...) in a manner that does not threaten food production."

Impact on agriculture

Agriculture is one of the main sectors of the economy that is severely affected by climate change. The recent El Niño phenomenon is a testimony to that, Semedo noted.

The support for the agreement comes at a time when some 60 million people around the world are being affected by the El Niño climate event.

It is important to note that the rural poor and small holder farmers are severely affected by climate change threats, Semedo stressed.

Role of farmers

During speaking engagements at various high level events, the FAO Deputy-Director General reiterated the crucial role of family farmers in poverty and hunger eradication.

Poverty and hunger have similar causes and are often bound together - and must therefore be tackled together.

"Support to end extreme poverty, hunger and all other forms of malnutrition by 2030 - the key of SDGs 1 and 2. Nearly 80 percent of the extreme poor and hungry people live in rural areas, so let's empower rural actors, small holders, rural women, youth, and indigenous peoples in our collective action," said Semedo.

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