The Right to Food

Promoting climate change adaptation policy for the right to food

News - 26.09.2019

Rome, 26 September 2019- Climate Change not only is among the leading causes of rising global hunger, but also has profound consequences on people’s livelihoods and their ability to enjoy their right to adequate food. Given the considerable impact of climate change on the realization of this important human right, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has recently started work on this nexus.

More specifically, they are looking into the interaction between climate change adaptation policy measures and the right to food. This interdependence, although rarely studied jointly, has been part of key global instruments in the last decades. Indeed, an overarching objective of the Right to Food Guidelines is to create the economic, social, political and cultural environment to empower people to enjoy their right to feed themselves in dignity and freedom in a sustainable manner. 

“As a global and guidance instrument, the Guidelines have called since its adoption in 2004 to redefine policy-making in order to effectively tackle vulnerabilities at the core of food insecurity and nutrition”, explained Juan Carlos García y Cebolla, Right to Food Team Leader.

Experts strive to consider this perspective as key element in the elaboration of national adaptation policy measures, so that that policy progresses address with greater coherence climate change and hunger, two of the main Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They also aim to integrate a human rights-based approach in policy processes to ensure that no one is left behind, especially vulnerable and marginalized groups.

These days, FAO is developing a thorough analytical framework to guide later stages of study that will be undertaken in the coming months in a number of selected countries from Central America and West Africa. Given the numerous synergies as well as the current momentum around these themes, collaboration between experts and institutions from other areas related may develop along the way.

Natalia Winder Rossi, Social Protection Officer at FAO, underlines that the extreme poor, who often live in the most risk exposed areas, are less equipped to protect themselves against climatic hazards and to recover quickly from shocks. "FAO is supporting the development of risk informed social protection systems which are able to mitigate the negative impacts of climate related shocks, support poor farmers to transition to more sustainable practices, while promoting the investment on prevention and early action via social protection", she said. Indeed, across regions, social protection has become a "critical component" of poverty reduction and resilience strategies.

Urgent action to face the challenge of climate change

In spite of numerous pledges and considerable efforts to eradicate hunger over the years, advances to date do not keep pace with the stated objectives of the Agenda 2030. More than 820 million people do not have enough to eat, according to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019. The negative impact of climate change on people’s livelihoods is only set to increase unless drastic steps are taken to change food systems in a sustainable manner.

As stressed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its special report on Climate Change and Land, launched last August, enabling conditions need to be created through policies, markets, institutions, and governance for adaptation. Without such strong concerted actions, pressure on food production will affect food availability, especially of the most vulnerable, and bring people and planet further from a sustainable and resilient future.

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