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World Food Day, 16 October 2016

Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too

One of the biggest issues related to climate change is food security. The world’s poorest - many of whom are farmers, fishers and pastoralists - are being hit hardest by higher temperatures and an increasing frequency in weather-related disasters.

At the same time, the global population is growing steadily and is expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. To meet such a heavy demand, agriculture and food systems will need to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change and become more resilient, productive and sustainable. This is the only way that we can ensure the wellbeing of ecosystems and rural populations and reduce emissions.

Growing food in a sustainable way means adopting practices that produce more with less in the same area of land and use natural resources wisely. It also means reducing food losses before the final product or retail stage through a number of initiatives including better harvesting, storage, packing, transport, infrastructure, market mechanisms, as well as institutional and legal frameworks.

This is why our global message for World Food Day 2016 is “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.”

It resonates with the crucial time in which the day will be observed, just before the next UN Climate Change Conference, COP 22, from 7-18 November 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco.

FAO is calling on countries to address food and agriculture in their climate action plans and invest more in rural development.

By strengthening the resilience of smallholder farmers, we can guarantee food security for the planet’s increasingly hungry global population also reduce emissions.

Did you know?

Livestock contributes to nearly two thirds of agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and 78% of agricultural methane emissions. FAO is working with countries to improve livestock management and mitigate the effects of climate change. See here how livestock diversity can help us to cope with climate change. 



Climate change’s negative impact on natural resources, from declining global water supplies and quality to soil degradation, underlines the increasing importance of using these resources sustainably. Good soil and forestry management, for example, can lead to the natural absorption of carbon dioxide, thereby decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

FAO estimates that agricultural production must rise by about 60% by 2050 in order to feed a larger population. Climate change is putting this objective at risk but FAO and its member countries are working on various solutions.

Over 1/3 of food produced worldwide is lost or wasted. That amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year. Methane is emitted by rotting food and is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

By 2050, catches of main fish species are expected to decline by up to 40% in the tropics, where livelihoods, food and nutrition security strongly depend on the fisheries sector. FAO’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries guides governments and private actors in conserving and managing the world’s oceans, rivers and lakes.

Deforestation and forest degradation account for an estimated 10 - 11% of global GHG emissions. FAO provides a toolbox for forest owners and other stakeholders to manage forests sustainably.

The world aims to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030; climate change is a challenge that must be addressed in order to continue the fight against hunger and achieve this goal. FAO is helping countries to improve the global food system and achieve this goal.