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As both climate change contributor and victim, agriculture must be part of the solution — says FAO

29/09/2010 the Republic of Korea

Gyeongju - Climate change in the Asia-Pacific region is rapidly altering the basic elements of agro-ecosystems, including temperature, rainfall, land and water resources as well as the region’s biodiversity, according to an FAO presentation made at the 30th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific.

FAO warned that crop yields in some areas may decrease by up 10 percent as early as 2020 and by as much as 30 percent by the year 2050, unless climate change adaptation and mitigation for food security and sustainable development is implemented. Climate change will further reduce food availability by changing farm production cycles. There will also be greater post harvest crop losses caused by the impact of climate change on transportation and marketing regimes.

“This should set off warning alarms across the region,” said Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General for Asia and the Pacific. “Agriculture is both a contributor to climate change as well as one of its most serious victims, suffering from the increasing number of erratic weather events and the natural disasters they spawn. Because of this, agriculture must play a leading role in reducing the impact of climate change.”

Ultimately, said FAO, climate change will affect food security, rural livelihoods and sustainable development throughout the Asia-Pacific region. “Areas with temperate climates may benefit, but most of the sub-tropics and tropical areas will be negatively impacted. South and Southeast Asia and the small Pacific Island Countries will be the most seriously affected.”

By the year 2020 an additional 49 million people in Asia are projected to be at risk of hunger caused by the impact of climate change. That number would rise to 132 million people by 2050, according to the presentation.

Agriculture is responsible for about one third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. About 50 percent of the global technical potential of climate change mitigation in the agricultural sectors could be realized in Asia by removing, reducing, avoiding or displacing emissions, according to the presentation.

“Proper adaptation can help mitigate the negative impacts and promote the positive ones,” said, Chen Zhijun, FAO technical officer for water resources development and conservation, who made the presentation. “Examples of actions that can reduce the impacts of climate change include adaptive farming; sustainable forestry management; integrated coastal zone management; integrated disaster risk management; biodiversity conservation and protection of fragile ecosystems in arid, semi-arid, mountainous and grazing land area.”

[...]

FAO is cooperating with its member countries and other concerned partners to encourage both the adaptation and mitigation aspects of agricultural production to meet the threats from climate change. The Organization is also involved in technology transfer and capacity building in these areas, as well as pilot field programmes and projects.

[...] Mr Chen also urged innovative financial support to reward adaptation and mitigation synergies and to help smallholder farmers to adopt these synergies.

Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) is another initiative that can mitigate the effects of climate change. REDD is an attempt to put a financial value on the carbon stored in forests. It offers incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and encourages those countries to invest in low-carbon sustainable development schemes. The programme functions with a multi-donor trust fund that has mobilized US$110 million and provides funding and technical support to develop and implement national joint projects. In Asia and the Pacific it is working in Indonesia and Viet Nam, while six other countries in the region have asked to join.

More information at:
http://www.fao.org/world/regional/rap/conference_30th_APRC.asp

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