Food Security Conference In The Hague Concludes With Suggestions For U.N. Climate Negotiations To Incorporate Agriculture

Participants in a five-day food security meeting at The Hague “urged U.N. climate negotiators Friday to consider agriculture when drawing up strategies to fight climate change,” the Canadian Press reports.

The conference, featuring delegates from 80 countries and a total of about 800 participants, “ended with a call to invest in new farming practices that will curb greenhouse gas emissions and will better use currently available land to feed a global population of 9 billion by 2050,” the news service writes. “Producing what it called a ‘roadmap for action,’ the conference called for governments to provide access to financing, markets and technology, while acknowledging that private business will play a huge role. Among its list of recommended actions was the restoration of degraded land, new systems of water conservation and harvesting, and better management of animal waste that produces powerful greenhouse gases.”

Henk Bleker, the Dutch agriculture minister, said U.N. negotiations should include discussion about funding for “climate smart” agriculture. “Investment ‘in agricultural development has been declining in the last 10 years,’ Bleker told reporters. ‘We want to change that.’ … Bleker said he was not suggesting that new money be found for climate-friendly agriculture policies, but that farming issues be factored in when the climate funds are distributed to developing countries,” according to the new service. The Canadian Press notes that approximately “30 percent of carbon emissions come from farming, livestock and forest destruction.” Even though land use is responsible for a significant share of global emissions, it is one of of the “toughest issues under negotiation at U.N. climate talks, and the one which has made the least progress,” the news service writes.

Later this month, negotiators are scheduled to reconvene in Cancun, Mexico, for what the Canadian Press called, “the most important [climate] session since the summit last December in Copenhagen,” which did not produce a “legally binding agreement to regulate the pollution blamed for global warming.”

“‘Nobody expects a global deal at Cancun, but there will surely be one before too long,’ and agriculture must be part of it,” Andrew Steer, the World Bank’s special envoy, said earlier in the week at the conference (Max, 11/7).

International Rice Congress To Kick Off In Vietnam

Meanwhile Tuesday will mark the beginning of the three-day International Rice Congress in Hanoi, Vietnam, which aims to “ensure a steady supply of rice – the staple food for Asia’s poor – against threats that include climate change and urbanisation,” Agence France-Presse reports. “The event, held every four years, is the world’s largest gathering of the rice industry, and will bring together more than 1,000 researchers, traders, agricultural ministers and other delegates from Asia and beyond,” the news service writes.

“Amidst constant pressure on global food production, worsening poverty, and climate change, the need to find ways to ensure there is enough affordable rice for everyone is critical,” according to a statement from the International Rice Congress. “Our foremost concern … is how to fully extend advances in technology, biology, genetics and IT to deliver benefits to the rice industry, and especially to the poorest people dependent on rice,” said To Phuc Tuong, chairman of the meeting’s organising committee.

The topics slated to be discussed at the meeting include the impact of climate change and Africa’s rice potential. “‘Riots broke out in 2008 because of high rice prices and unavailability of rice on the market in major African capitals,’ a conference document said. ‘Relying on the world market to supply rice to African consumers is becoming a very risky, expensive and unsustainable strategy.’ It said there is huge potential for growing rice in Africa, where consumption is growing by at least five percent annually,” AFP reports (11/7).

“Under the theme, Rice for Future Generations, the congress will focus on how science and technology can better help farmers grow rice more efficiently,” IRIN writes in an article previewing the conference. The article includes a list of key facts about rice production worldwide (11/8).

The conference comes after a September report said Asian countries need to expand rice production to improve food security, AFP notes. Also in August, researchers from the U.S., the Philippines and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said modest rises in global temperatures could reduce rice production in Asia and result in more poverty and hunger (11/7).

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