FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

On World Food Day, Asia and the Pacific prepare agriculture for climate change

Model Farmers from five countries receive FAO awards for innovation in agriculture

17/10/2016 Bangkok, Thailand

In the Asia-Pacific region, increasingly prone to climate related disasters, droughts and floods, adapting agriculture to climate change requires immediate action, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization announced today.

“We can see that climate change is happening, and we know that our food and agriculture systems must change too,” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific. “Hunger, poverty and climate change need to be tackled together. In fact if we don’t act, we will most certainly undo the gains we’ve made, where our Asia-Pacific region reduced hunger by half over the last 25 years. We cannot afford to let the happen – we must become the zero hunger generation.”

Kadiresan was speaking at the opening of FAO’s regional Asia-Pacific observance of World Food Day in Bangkok, Thailand. The theme of this year’s World Food Day is “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.”

The regional event was graced by the presence of Her Royal Highness, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand, during which Her Royal Highness graciously accepted the invitation of FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, to become FAO Special Ambassador for Zero Hunger. “Those who are already food insecure and lack coping capacity are, and will be, the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” Her Royal Highness said. “As Special Ambassador for Zero Hunger, I strongly support FAO in its efforts toward helping governments and partners to strengthen the resilience of rural livelihoods and agricultural producers as we adapt to the realities of climate change.”

The Princess also presented FAO awards to ‘model farmers’ from five countries where their innovation and inclusive agricultural practices have improved their lives and the lives of others. The farmers hailed from Fiji, Mongolia, Pakistan, Thailand and Viet Nam. 

Asia-Pacific World Food Day keynote speaker, Carmela Locsin, Director-General of the Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department at the Asian Development Bank, said ADB is working with governments and partners to counter the effects of climate change. “ADB’s President has pledged to double our investment in climate change mitigation and adaptation to US$ six billion by 2020, from US$ three billion today. Of this, US$ two billion is targeted for climate change adaptation, a significant part of which will be in the agriculture sector,” Locsin said.

Climate change a threat to food security, particularly in Asia and the Pacific

Climate change is a fundamental threat to global food security and is already undermining crop yields in many parts of the world. Rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and extreme weather events are affecting our ability to produce the food we need. In Asia and the Pacific, the region expected to see some of the highest population growth in the decades ahead, action must be taken now. “To address this wicked problem, bold action is necessary,” said Kadiresan. “Business as usual just won’t cut it. Today – not tomorrow – is the time for action.”

Today, at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy, release of the 2016 State of Food and Agriculture Report further underlined the urgent need for a way forward to adapt agriculture to climate change.

The report warns that agricultural sectors face a unique challenge, namely to produce more food while reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by food production. The ‘SOFA’ report warns that adverse impacts from climate change will worsen with time. It calls for immediate action to set in process a global transformation to sustainable food and agriculture.

Indeed international action is underway. Last December, countries from all over the world met at COP21 to finalize the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. For the first time, all countries have committed to do their part to respond to climate change. That agreement will enter into force next month and a follow-up meeting COP22 in Morocco will be the next step for governments to translate these commitments into action. FAO is working with member countries to help them do so.

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