045 Climate change and food security: Is the link strong enough?

Voicing CFS views on food security and nutrition under the UNFCCC process


  • WFP
  • IFAD
  • FAO
  • New Zealand


One of the key recommendations in the discussions of the CFS 44 side event “Walk the talk: key achievements in the fight against climate change in light of the 2012 HLPE recommendation” was that of linking the CFS more closely to the UNFCCC agenda. The idea was to bring the Committee's views on climate change to the UNFCCC discussions, as was recommended in the 2012 HLPE recommendations.

The side event will revive the debate to raise the profile of food security and nutrition in the current and future UNFCCC work streams and in particular, in the context of the Koronivia joint work on agriculture and Talanoa Dialogue.
While UNFCCC is putting a stronger emphasis on the participation of non-Party stakeholders, the side event will use this momentum to bring together key stakeholders including the Rome-based agencies, the CFS, member countries, the UNFCCC, as well as civil society and the private sector. It will open a multi-stakeholder dialogue on how to engage the CFS in the climate arena

Key speakers/presenters

  • Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General, Climate and Natural Resources, FAO
  • Patrick Rata, Ambassador, Embassy of New Zealand in Italy
  • Mario Arvelo, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to FAO, CFS Chair
  • Livia Hollins, Office of the Senior Director, UNFCCC
  • Victoria Hatton, Lead negotiator for international agriculture and climate change, Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand
  • Cryspin Kayitare, World Farmers’ Organization Member, Rwanda
  • Bing Zhao, Director of Food Systems and Purchase for Progress, WFP/RBA

Main themes/issues discussed

The side event, jointly organised by the Rome-Based Agencies, was an opportunity to discuss the progress made and further action required on the need to link CFS to the international climate change agenda, including the launch of the UNFCCC Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture. Particularly, the discussion focused on the role that the CFS can play in raising awareness of the importance of food security and nutrition in the context of the international climate change agenda.

Summary of key points

Food security and climate change are interlinked. International recognition on the connection between food security and climate change has been growing over the years and is reflected in the Paris Agreement, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly SDG2 on achieving zero hunger and SDG13 on climate action, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the IPCC 5th assessment report, and 1.5 Special Report.

The impacts of climate change are a reality and are a growing threat to agriculture and food security. Crop yields will be adversely affected by climate change, with maize and wheat yields having already decreased by 5% in the last 30 years. Moreover, due to the current standardization of crops, the increase in temperature will negatively affect the same crop family spread around the word, at the same time. Responding to the challenges posed by climate change for food security requires very urgent action and an integrated, cross-sectoral approach, guided by multi-stakeholder dialogue and partnership.

Collective effort and collective results are required. Finding effective way to produce food while reducing the impact on the environment is crucial. The current food system requires improvement by reducing food loss and waste and by rebalancing our diet. Nowadays, around 40% of the food produced globally is wasted. Farmers need to be at the heart of the link between climate change and food security, implementing climate actions.

Leveraging the comparative advantages of the Rome-based agencies is fundamental to achieve food security and zero hunger. The agencies have been collaborating over the years, working on a more resilient food system for all. Climate action demands a transformation of agricultural food systems, rural economies, and natural resource management practices to ensure a secure and healthy future for all people. RBAs promote indigenous knowledge in the context of climate change adaptation and are using innovative approaches for countries to manage climate risks, including weather index-based insurance, climate information services, forecast based finance, and shock responsive safety nets. Growing evidence suggests that investing in early response, helps reducing the eventual need for humanitarian aid.

The link between climate change and food security is strong but more effort is needed to make this connection more relevant. By developing policy guidance and information, CFS has leveraging opportunities to better integrate its work with the international climate change agenda. CFS is active in the climate change discussion and will review SDG13 in New York. An integrated approach, that includes the private sector, governments, and all stakeholders is required for effective climate action.

Key take away messages

  • The link between climate change is strong but it can become stronger with more effort.
  • Addressing food waste and rebalancing our diet is crucial.
  • The need to invest in early warning system, technology transfer, capacity building, and knowledge sharing is key.
  • CFS and the international climate change agenda need to be better integrated, with a cross-sectoral approach and multi-stakeholder dialogue.
  • CFS’ participation in the review of SDG13 and the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture are good platforms for better integration.
  • Farmers should be at the center of the climate change-food security link.
  • Solutions for better integration exists, but more coordination is needed, especially in the light of the IPCC 1.5 special report. 
  • There is a general concern and awareness that everyone has a role to play in addressing the consequences of climate change on food security and nutrition. This should be communicated to the outside world, trying to influence people’s life choices (i.e. reducing the use of plastic, balanced diet, etc.).
CFS Side Event 045- Climate change and food security: Is the link strong enough?