G8, Climate Change and Food Security

08 Jul 2009

World leaders gathered in Italy for the annual three-day summit of the G8 nations have failed to agree on a climate change proposal that would have committed the world to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by midcentury and industrialized countries by 80 percent. However, they have committed to a $12 billion, 3-year food security initiative that will provide emergency aid and focus on building sustainable, productive agriculture and food delivery systems.

Oxfam International released a report on Monday, Suffering the Science: Climate Change, People and Poverty, to encourage the G8 leaders’ to respond to these issues with urgency. The advocacy group stated that chronic hunger may be “the defining human tragedy of this century,” and that as climate change causes growing seasons to shift, crops to fail, and extreme weather patterns, the problems will become even more difficult to resolve.

Oxfam’s research with farmers around the world has found that the results are “strikingly consistent across entire geographies”, with growers reporting that changing seasonal patterns are already affecting their ability to plan the sowing and harvesting of crops. According to Oxfam, the consequences will see millions of people in areas suffering food scarcity forced to give up traditional crops, possibly leading to social upheavals such as mass migrations.

Meanwhile, Bioversity International, the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to agricultural biodiversity research, has warned that if the leaders of the G8 really do intend to increase spending on agricultural development now, in order to prevent the need for emergency food aid in future, they need to do more than simply increase support.

‘Just returning spending on research and development to where it was a couple of decades ago is not going to do the job if the thinking behind the research also returns to where it was 20 years ago,’ said Emile Frison, Director General of Bioversity International.

Bioversity argues that simple intensification of production will not be enough, especially in continents such as Africa that has a huge diversity of staple crops, landscapes, soil types, cultures and weather patterns.

‘Agricultural biodiversity has a significant and under-appreciated role to play in delivering more resilient harvests, adaptability to climate change, better nutrition and health, environmental protection and economic development,’ stated Frison.


Bioversity International

New York Times

Bess Mucke
[email protected]

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