UN Agencies urge immediate climate action to avert hunger

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New Delhi, Dec 12 (UNI) UN Agencies - FAO, the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development - today warned that climate change is a major challenge to world food security and will increase hunger and malnutrition unless immediate action is taken.

FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf, speaking on behalf of the three agencies, told the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali that extreme weather events are already having adverse effects on food security and that moderate changes would have further negative impacts.

FAO's 2006 State of Food Insecurity Report estimated that 854 million people worldwide suffer from hunger and malnutrition, including 820 million in developing countries.

Three out of four of the world's one billion poorest people live in the rural areas of developing countries and face immediate risks from increased crop failures and loss of livestock. More than 1.5 billion forest-dependent people are highly vulnerable too, as are 200 million people dependent on fisheries, a FAO release received here said.

''It is paramount that we address food security concerns when discussing the challenges of climate change,'' Dr Diouf declared, announcing that in June next year FAO will organize a high-level conference to address world food security and the challenges of climate change and bio-energy.

Sustainable forest management also offered opportunities for immediate mitigation and adaptation, Dr Diouf said. Deforestation was responsible for some 17 per cent of global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions so that improved forest management could provide ''comprehensive, rapid and effective action'' while at the same time benefiting the rural poor and capturing environmental co-benefits.

Integrated strategies and collaborative approaches are required to overcome the multiple threats of climate change, Dr Diouf said.

''Effective implementation will require increased investment in agricultural development and natural resource management at all levels.'' But trade-offs between the agriculture and energy sectors had to be carefully balanced.

FAO, IFAD and WFP pledged to use their knowledge, expertise, global field presence and investment programmes ''to give our continued support to countries and to collaborate with our Member Countries and other partners, within and outside the United Nations, to ensure that the impacts of climate change do not exacerbate hunger and poverty'', Dr Diouf concluded.

UNI

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