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Climate Change

The issues

Climate variability and change are already affecting crops, livestock, fisheries/aquaculture and forestry as well as the livelihoods of many people, especially the most vulnerable.

The effects of climate change include higher temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns, rising sea levels, and more frequent weather-related disasters such as drought and flooding.

Agriculture is in the front line, withstanding on its own up to 84 percent of the economic impacts caused by a drought. Climate change is expected to hit developing countries the hardest as most are in tropical rather than temperate zones. The world’s poorest and hungriest people often live in the most marginal lands of those countries, making them exceptionally vulnerable to climate change.

Agricultural sectors have a significant role to play in helping stabilize or reduce the current pathway of global greenhouse gas emissions, the key objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The need to ensure that food production is not threatened by a changing climate was recognized in Article 2 of the UNFCCC in 1992. Yet the world is struggling to meet the 2-degree target set in Copenhagen in 2009. It is imperative to understand that asking agriculture to bear that burden while also ensuring sustainably increased food production can only be done with substantial investments on the financial and policy fronts and on both the international and local levels.

Improved agricultural practices can help mitigate climate change by reducing emissions from agriculture and other sources and by storing carbon in plant biomass and soils. The work of FAO aims to identify, develop and promote practices and approaches that improve the livelihoods of farmers, especially in developing countries and contribute to reduce agricultural emissions and sequester carbon.