Thursday, May 29, 2014

Global Food Security Conference Focuses on the Challenges of Climate Change

The Honorable Susan Rice, U.S. National Security Advisor, 
discusses Food Security Challenges for the 21st Century 
(Photo courtesy of The Chicago Council @ChicagoCouncil)
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs recently convened their annual Global Food Security Symposium and the 2014 topic was "Advancing Global Food Security in the Face of Weather Volatility and Climate Change," an extremely important issue facing all stakeholders in the agriculture sector. The symposium had a wide array of speakers from government, universities, non-profit organizations, corporations, and farmers. US government representatives included some key speakers like Secretary Tom Vilsack, US Department of Agriculture; Susan E. Rice, US National Security Advisor; and Administrator Rajiv Shah, US Agency for International Development, who discussed US policy as it relates to food security and climate change and also announcing a new USAID nutrition strategy and gave updates on the recent Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative, in which USDA is taking the lead.

Representatives from the foundation and non-profit world, including from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Earth Policy Institute, Food Tank, the World Wildlife Fund, and others, shared strategies and highlighted projects seeking to mitigate the impacts of climate change not just on food production but on all levels of the value chains and also discussed opportunities to enhance and preserve the natural resource base for adaptation and mitigation. Speakers from the private sector, such as Syngenta, Nestle, the Swiss Reinsurance Company, and Buffett Farms Nebraska LLC, shared their ideas about managing risk, water stresses, science and research investments, and new technologies that can help with climate-smart agriculture.

At the symposium, the Chicago Council released their new report that urges the US government to include climate change adaption and related issues in it's global food security strategy. The full report can be found here but it came up with four primary recommendations (below, as stated in the report):
  • Make global food security one of the highest priorities of US economic and foreign development policy
  • Bolster research on climate change impacts and solutions, increase funding for data collection, and partner widely
  • Include climate change adaptation in trade negotiations
  • Advance climate change adaptation and mitigation through partnerships
Partners' Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program has been working in several areas to help farmers adapt to the impacts of climate change. Partners’ expertise in key areas of project sustainability in light of climate change variability have been an essential first step. Technical assistance in integrated pest management, water use and conservation, forest management, crop diversification, and biofuels, to name a few, help provide solutions to changing climatic conditions that impact agriculture. And this work continues in the current F2F Program. If you have skills related to these or other topics linked to climate change adaption, check out what volunteer opportunities are available in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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