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A statement by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva
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16 November 2016 


 Agriculture and food security
Global Climate Action 2016


The Paris Agreement has entered into force less than a year since its adoption.

As President Hollande said yesterday, it is irreversible and inaction would be disastrous for the world.

This is an urgent call for action.

And also an unequivocal recognition of the risks that climate change pose on fundamental dimensions of humanity.

One of these is food security and nutrition.

The impacts of climate change on agriculture, including crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries, land and water, are already undermining efforts to assure food security and adequate nutrition for all. 

Uncertainties regarding food production and availability are on the rise, as producers experience higher temperatures, erratic weather patterns and the outbreak of pests and diseases. Natural disasters such as prolonged droughts are more frequent and intense.

The rural poor of developing countries are – as usual - the most affected. They are the majority of the nearly 800 million people that still suffer from hunger in the world. 

If we fail to support these millions, the SDGs 1 and 2 on ending extreme poverty and hunger simply will not be achieved.

And as many as 120 million more people could fall hungry by 2030, bringing the total number close to the 1 billion that was registered during the food crises in 2008-2010.

So it is imperative that smallholders and family farmers are provided with access to markets, innovative practices, technical capacity, credit and insurance.

Social protection programmes are even more important in the context of climate change. They reduce the vulnerability to shocks and boost local production and consumption. They help the poor to cope with this “new normality” and invest for their future.

But promoting resilience and adaptation is not enough. We must also seek to mitigate climate change, as determined in the Paris Agreement.

They account for nearly 20 percent of total emissions, especially the conversion of forests to farmland and from livestock.

Let me highlight an important point: the way we adapt can generate mitigation co-benefits.

The '4 pour 1000’ Initiative is a good example.

Business as usual is not an option. We have to transform agriculture, make it more productive and more resilient at the same time.

And this transformation will help to address, at the same time, the triple threat of hunger, poverty and climate change.

Countries are recognizing the potential of agriculture and making unprecedented commitments.

We can see this movement at three interlinked and complementary levels: at the intergovernmental level, within the UNFCCC negotiations; at the national level, on countries’ INDCs and NDCs; and at the global, multi-stakeholder level, here, as we discuss the Climate Action Agenda.

At UNFCCC, I welcome the progress made on the discussion on agriculture during this session.

But it was not enough, we expected much more. And a lot more is needed. We look forward to the continuation of this discussion in the next months.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Climate change is part of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, with their central message of leaving no one behind. For that, we need to move on both in tandem: implementing the SDGs, and responding to climate change.

Agriculture and food security are clearly and overwhelmingly a priority for developing countries.

More than 90 percent of the Nationally Determined Contributions have included agriculture in their mitigation or adaptation plans.

And 78 percent of the NDCs are linked to SDG 2 of ending hunger.

Now at COP 22, we must focus on the implementation of these pledges. And that means putting a lot more emphasis on financing, and exploring promising new arrangements such as the recently launched NDC Partnership.

This Global Climate Action for Agriculture and Food Security is a great opportunity to discuss the way forward.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Climate change is a cornerstone of FAO’s work.

We support countries in all aspects related to the implementation of sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture.

Over the last 5 years, FAO has executed more than 300 projects and programmes in this regard.

There are plenty of viable and affordable initiatives for climate action in all agricultural sectors. We have elaborated this booklet which we will leave with you to present FAO’s work.

It contains many concrete examples of what can be done to promote adaptation and mitigation together, in areas such as irrigation and drought management, agroforestry systems, land use, aquaculture, conservation of genetic resources and much more.    

Today we are launching a global framework on water scarcity, which is one of the main challenges for sustainable agriculture. I invite countries and partners to join this initiative.

FAO also provides many methods and tools for carrying out impact assessments and the monitoring of natural resources and greenhouse gas emissions. Data are important for countries to consider potential areas of action. 

Climate financing and agricultural investments are critical to put all these actions in place.

New funding facilities, such as the Green Climate Fund, are now available. And FAO has been recently accredited to fully support countries to elaborate and present projects and programmes to be financed by the GCF.

Ladies and gentlemen,

With the Paris Agreement in force, we are quickly moving into a new era in the international response to climate change. We must effectively scale up actions and ambitions.

We cannot afford to wait. We have 14 years to achieve the SDGs, and a similarly short timeframe to stabilize global average temperatures to safe levels.

The establishment of a Global Climate Action Agenda is timely and important.

For millions of people, our actions can make a difference between poverty and prosperity, and between hunger and food security.

It is time to act. And investing in sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture is a fundamental part of the solution.

Thank you for your attention.