UN rural development agency says climate change and food security challenges 'inextricably linked'
At Durban conference, IFAD President highlights potential of smallholder agriculture
Rome/Durban, 2 December 2011 – The President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Kanayo F. Nwanze, urged negotiators at the global climate change conference to recognize that "there is no trade-off between feeding people and saving our planet."
"It is clear that food security and climate change, humanity's two greatest challenges in the 21st century, are inextricably linked," Nwanze said.
Nwanze will give a keynote address at the Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) event on 3 December, accompanying the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
"Negotiators need to recognize the critical importance of enabling smallholder farmers to become more resilient to climate change and to grow more food in environmentally sustainable, climate-smart ways," he added.
According to IFAD, the world's 500 million smallholder farms will have to significantly increase their production over the next four decades to keep pace with a growing global population. And they will have to do it in the face of more frequent extreme weather events and shifting weather conditions brought by climate change.
Prior to his departure for Durban, Nwanze stressed that despite the slow pace of climate negotiations, IFAD is now seeing "significant, tangible changes" in developing countries towards sustainable agriculture.
"Out in their fields, farmers are already adapting to the changing climate and realizing that they must respect and preserve the environment if they are to feed their families and produce a surplus for markets," Nwanze said. "And policymakers at the country level are citing the impact of extreme weather on their crop production and asking for climate change to be addressed in rural development projects."
Noting that global investment in agriculture had dropped by half over the past 30 years, Nwanze said efforts should be directed at expanding public investment in research to build farmers' resilience to climate change and to support their adoption of sustainable agricultural practices.
IFAD-supported initiatives in Burkina Faso, China, Ethiopia, Peru and elsewhere are showing success in helping poor farmers increase their productivity and incomes. These farmers make maximum use of natural processes, thereby reducing the need for environmentally harmful external inputs.
"There is already a scaling up of sustainable agricultural practices in many parts of the world," Nwanze added. "What we need now is a rapid acceleration of these changes so that smallholder farmers can successfully feed their families, connect to markets and contribute more to global food production."
Press release No.: IFAD/87/2011
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) works with poor rural people to enable them to grow and sell more food, increase their incomes and determine the direction of their own lives. Since 1978, IFAD has invested about US$13.2 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries through projects empowering about 400 million people to break out of poverty, thereby helping to create vibrant rural communities. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome – the United Nation's food and agricultural hub. It is a unique partnership of 167 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).