Devastating Impacts of Climate Change Threatening Farm Outputs, Increasing Global Hunger, Delegates Say as Second Committee Takes Up Agriculture, Food Security
Destructive impacts of climate change like droughts, floods and increasingly severe storms are the primary culprits behind decreased farming output and rising hunger worldwide, speakers told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), as it took up agriculture, food security and nutrition today.
Speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Guyana’s delegate cited the recent earthquake in Haiti as yet another reminder of the vulnerability of small island and low‑lying coastal States to extreme climate. Underlining the urgent need to build resilience to shocks through climate‑sensitive agriculture, he said water management schemes as well as drought- and flood‑resistant seeds are critical.
Maldives’ representative, speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States, similarly noted that climate change, environmental degradation and declining ocean health severely threaten food security and nutrition in small island countries. Rapid changes in temperatures and increasing levels of flooding or drought slash agricultural yields in small islands, reducing their ability to locally produce food.
Rising sea levels result in salt water encroachment, threatening coastal farmland and fresh water supply, he added. The few small islands with coastal farmland also face threats from increasingly intense and frequent natural hazards, which destroy crops and damage production as well as transport infrastructure.
Malawi’s delegate, speaking for the Group of Least Developed Countries, described climate change as one of the biggest reasons for increasing global hunger rates. Climate change has had a devastating effect on his group, with global warming of 2°C (according to the Paris Agreement) projected to further reduce crop yields and nutrition.
Almost a quarter of the populations of least developed countries suffer food insecurity, with vulnerable populations in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen even facing the risk of famine, he said. Adding that the vast majority of farmers in these nations are small‑scale producers, he said they are most vulnerable to environmental and price shocks.
To mitigate and adapt to the negative impacts of climate change on farming, Ethiopia’s delegate said his country is promoting climate resilient green agriculture. The idea is to mobilize local communities and undertake natural resource conservation and management activities like forestry development as well as soil and water preservation.
Speakers also stressed the need for urgent investment in agriculture, especially in Africa, where mechanization will greatly boost yields. Zambia’s delegate noted that small‑scale farmers in his country still use outdated equipment like the handheld hoe. Adding that introduction of tractors and tillers is boosting production for women farmers and their families, he stressed that many are still seeding, weeding and harvesting by hand, back‑breaking labour that causes spinal injuries and premature ageing.
In a like vein, the representative of Mozambique said his country’s ability to grow crops has remained unchanged due to traditional and rudimentary means of crop production with limited modern technology. Due to resultant shortages, it is estimated that 43 per cent of children aged 5 and under suffer from severe stunting, with huge costs for their health and education, while the rest of the population has yet to achieve ideal levels of food security and nutrition.
Reports were presented at the meeting’s outset by Madhushree Chatterjee, Chief of the Natural Resources and Interlinkages Branch of the Division for Sustainable Development Goals, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, on agriculture development, food security and nutrition (document A/73/293) and on International Year of Pulses (document A/73/287).
Also speaking today were the representatives of Egypt (for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Myanmar (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Morocco (for the African Group), El Salvador (for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Russian Federation, Costa Rica, Sudan, Algeria, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ukraine, Cambodia, China, United Arab Emirates, Tonga, Brazil, Philippines, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Mali, Finland, Indonesia, Nepal, Burkina Faso and Saudi Arabia. Representatives of the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations and the Holy See also spoke.
The Committee will meet again on Monday, 15 October, to take up sustainable development.
Presentation of Reports
MADHUSHREE CHATTERJEE, Chief of the Natural Resources and Interlinkages Branch of the Division for Sustainable Development Goals, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, presented the Secretary-General’s report on agriculture development, food security and nutrition (document A/73/293) and on International Year of Pulses (document A/73/287). Emphasizing the centrality of food security in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, she noted that world hunger is on the rise after a prolonged decline. In 2016, the world’s undernourished numbered 815 million, up from 777 million in 2015. In 2018, it is estimated that 821 million people will suffer from undernourishment. As a result of such figures, about one in five children under the age of 5 face stunting. Humanitarian assistance is critical to avert famine, but it is insufficient in addressing the causes of hunger and starvation.
Unsustainable farming and the depletion of biodiversity play a role in food insecurity trends, she continued. Any reversal in long-term progress makes the prospect of ending food insecurity by 2030 more difficult. Natural hazards affect all dimensions of food security, as does climate change, which disproportionately impacts the most vulnerable. Climate change also makes extreme weather more intense and increases in productivity harder to achieve. Water stress is also a potentially exacerbating factor in food insecurity, as it hampers economic and social development. Fisheries are affected by water stress, which also leads to land degradation.
Facing a growing lag in access to Government spending, agriculture desperately needs greater investments and financing, she said. Other factors that will bolster agriculture are an open and rules‑based trading system, South‑South and triangular cooperation and partnerships. With current trends, hunger will not be eradicated by 2030 unless urgent action takes place. All must work together to place rural development and agricultural programmes at the forefront, invest in agriculture and support institutional policy measures promoting responsible investment.
In a question and answer session that followed, the representative of Egypt asked about the challenges of using technology in developing countries to fight hunger. In response, Ms. Chatterjee offered to share the applicable report.
The representative of Algeria, noting that the northeast region of her country is referenced in the report, asked what can be done at the national level in collaboration with the United Nations to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2. Responding, Ms. Chatterjee deferred to the agencies working on the ground in Algeria.
The representative of Paraguay asked about the main findings of report on achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2. In response, Ms. Chatterjee noted water plays a crucial role in reducing malnutrition and directed the representative to the Sustainable Development Goal knowledge platform.
MAHMOUD EL ASHMAWY (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted that hunger has been increasing worldwide for the past three years, with the absolute number of people suffering undernourishment or chronic food deprivation having risen from 804 million in 2016 to 821 million in 2017. Crisis‑level food insecurity rose from 108 million in 2016 to 124 million in 2017, with 767 million living below the extreme poverty line. Given ending poverty and hunger in all dimensions are top priorities of the Sustainable Development Goals, raising rural incomes and increasing productivity are crucial. He said the Group stresses that agriculture is the dominant sector in the gross domestic product (GDP) of many developing countries. Agricultural trade can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals if global trade operates with an open, rules‑based trading system. Given current trends, hunger will not be eradicated by 2030.
HMWAY HMWAY KHYNE (Myanmar), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and aligning herself with the Group of 77, said the planet is under food stress, recalling that the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimates that world food production will need to increase by 70 per cent by 2050 to feed the global population. However, investing in agriculture is not a panacea for that challenge, she said, rather a holistic approach is needed, from addressing climate change, biodiversity loss and poverty, to developing sustainable agriculture and food systems.
Though most the Association’s Member States are major food producers, they still face food insecurity and malnutrition threats, she said, and are forging ahead under the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025 to address those challenges. Noting positive accomplishments in forestry and fishery sectors, she said ASEAN has also adopted a Declaration on Ending All Forms of Malnutrition at its 2017 summit. Turning to the threat of climate change and its effect on food insecurity, she said it had convened a special ASEAN ministerial meeting on climate action in July to galvanize regional climate action.
PERKS MASTER CLEMENCY LIGOYA (Malawi), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77, reminded that ending hunger is a priority of the Sustainable Development Goals, noting the worrisome trend of rising hunger over the past three years risks returning the world to the state it found itself in a decade ago. Climate change is one of the biggest culprits in driving hunger. Of 51 nations facing food insecurity, 33 are least developed countries with a combined population of 82 million. Almost a quarter of the population of the least developed countries face food insecurity, with vulnerable populations in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen even facing the risk of famine. Climate change has a devastating effect on least developed countries, and according to the Paris Agreement, global warming of 2°C is projected to further reduce crop yields and nutrition. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report highlights that global warming of 1.5°C may substantially reduce agricultural yield. Noting the majority of farmers — many of them women — in least developed countries are small‑scale producers, he said they are most vulnerable to environmental and price shocks. Ending hunger, he said, therefore involves concerted efforts to address the specific needs and challenges of least developed countries at the national, regional and global levels.
RUDOLPH MICHAEL TEN‑POW (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77, Alliance of Small Island States and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said the recent earthquake in Haiti is yet another reminder of the vulnerability of small island and low‑lying coastal States in the Caribbean Community. The destructive impacts of climate change — increasingly frequent and severe storms, droughts and floods — pose an ongoing threat to the region’s agricultural infrastructure and thus to its food and nutritional security. Underlining the need to build resilience to shocks, including through the development of climate sensitive agriculture, water management schemes and drought- and flood‑resistant seeds, is critical.
Noting that agriculture today accounts for a decreasing share of the region’s GDP, he cited rising unemployment and the need to put in place technical, infrastructural and incentive frameworks to spur innovation and higher productivity in that sector. CARICOM’s Common Agricultural Policy lays the basis for transforming the sector and improving food and nutrition security in the region, he said, adding that within its single market and economy the policy seeks to establish links with other sectors — especially tourism — to increase employment. Efforts to turn the Caribbean into the first region resilient to climate change are supported by various international partners. Efforts are also under way to ensure access to fresh water supplies, reduce the consumption of processed foods and train young people in agriculture‑related social media and financial investments to help them become entrepreneurs in that sector.
FARZANA ZAHIR (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said that food security and nutrition in small island developing countries are under severe threat from climate change, environmental degradation, declining ocean health and global economic crises. For small islands, the nexus between food security, climate action and sustainable oceans becomes more enhanced due to their vulnerability to external shocks and limited resources. Rapid changes in temperatures and increasing levels of flooding or drought can contribute to reduced agricultural yields in small islands, reducing their limited capacity for local food production. Rising sea levels result in salt water encroachment, threatening coastal farmland and fresh water supply. The few small islands with coastal farmland also face threats from increasingly intense and frequent natural hazards, which destroy crops and damage production and transport infrastructure.
As ocean health declines, so do opportunities for small island developing State communities to access safe, nutritious food, he said. Marine pollution, with increasing ocean acidification, further exacerbated by high temperatures and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, all threaten marine resources. Many small islands are net food importing countries and highly vulnerable to the volatility of commodity prices and global supply as well as high import costs. These imported foods also have a negative impact, contributing to increasing patterns of poor nutrition, with increasing instances of non‑communicable diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other conditions. The prevalence of obesity and non‑communicable diseases associated with poor quality diets in many small island States are among the highest in the world.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself with the Group of 77, stated current global efforts are not sufficient to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 by 2030 in many parts of the world, with special concern for sub‑Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. The African Union is taking steps to achieve the continent’s agricultural vision, aiming to end hunger by 2025. He pointed to Africa’s tremendous agricultural potential, with the world’s largest share of uncultivated fertile land, as well as abundant water resources and proximity to transportation links and regional markets. Therefore, what Africa requires is increased investment in its agricultural sector and the removal of trade restrictions. African programmes such as TerrAfrica and the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative demonstrate its determination to drive its own development.
RUBÉN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBÚN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of CELAC, called on FAO to renew its cooperation programme under the framework of the Community’s Plan for Food and Nutrition Security and the Eradication of Hunger 2025, reiterating the importance of measures to strengthen school nourishment programmes in that context. The Community, he underlined, also accepts the offer by FAO to use its platform on biodiversity and food to promote the integration of conservation and sustainable agriculture. Greater investment in agriculture overall is needed to enhance food security and nutrition. He reaffirmed the Community’s commitment to promote family farming with the support of Government programmes for distribution of harvests, in coordination with the various regional actions on food security.
Welcoming initiatives for improved coherence under the Zero Hunger Challenge, he reiterated the importance of efficiency, and the inclusion of family farms, in programmes to reduce food waste. Highlighting the threat that severe meteorological events pose to agriculture and food security in the region, he underscored the importance of international support to counteract it. He recognized the positive impact of interregional trade for food security, while pledging further efforts from CELAC to overcome its challenges. He also underlined the importance of South‑South and triangular cooperation, official development assistance (ODA) and sharing of best practices in adaptation to climate change. Pledging the continued commitment of all Community members to the 2025 plan, he renewed the request for financial and technical support in that context to FAO, World Food Programme (WFP), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and regional organizations.
IAN S. NAUMKIN (Russian Federation) said if the current trend of food insecurity continues, the international community will be unable to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Measures are needed at a global level, drawing in FAO, WFP and other relevant stakeholders. Another priority is to guarantee that food is of a high quality and people make the right nutrition choices. One country alone can be affected both by famine and obesity due to unbalanced diets. It is necessary to guarantee the growth of the agricultural sector, and to mitigate the effects of extreme climate. The Russian Federation has assisted 32 States worldwide in achieving aspects of the 2030 Agenda, including to achieve food security. It has also worked together with WFP to implement projects seeking to optimize school feeding programmes.
RODRIGO ALBERTO CARAZO ZELEDÓN (Costa Rica) stressed the importance of food safety as central to agriculture, health and sustainable consumption patterns. Every year almost 600 million people worldwide fall ill and 420,000 die due to food contaminated by bacteria, parasites and chemicals, which cause 200 illnesses including cancer. His Government accents the importance of tackling this issue with integrated actions throughout the food chain from primary producer to consumer. Costa Rica will present a resolution to mark 7 June as World Food Safety Day and work for its adoption.
MURTADA HASSAN ABUOBEIDA SHARIF (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77, Group of Least Developed Countries and the African Group, stated the world is not moving towards eradicating hunger. Hunger is increasing after years of decrease, demanding urgent measures to secure the food supply. He noted that the number of people affected by hunger has risen from 108 to 124 million in 51 countries, due to a variety of factors including armed conflict, slow economic growth and climate change. The international community must accelerate efforts to end malnutrition and poverty. In Sudan, the agricultural sector is one of the main engines of socioeconomic development, with millions of hectares of available arable land. The country has strategic plans to increase food security and productivity and calls for sharing of technology to further develop these measures.
MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria) said the international community must award food security a key place in development and agricultural policies and strive to increase food production in all countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It must improve access to food and increase agricultural activity. In Algeria, the main goal of public policies in the field of agriculture is to prioritize food security, which has now become a strategic objective for the country. This policy has mobilized about 13.7 billion to fight the root causes of hunger and malnutrition.
GHULAM SEDDIQ RASULI (Afghanistan) said world hunger is on the rise after several years of decline due to the lack of development, agriculture and global warming. Urgent actions are needed to ensure sustainable food production systems, revitalize the agricultural sector, promote rural development and empower traditionally excluded groups, especially smallholder farmers and small‑scale producers within local food systems. Nutrition is also in the spotlight as a key component of these efforts. Disasters and the effects of climate change also severely affect vulnerable populations. Strengthening the resilience of rural communities and promoting the preservation and restoration of resources and ecosystems have key importance for ensuring the well‑being of vulnerable segments of the population.
JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO (Nicaragua), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, noting 815 million malnourished, said food security presents an urgent global challenge. Trends indicate food security disproportionately affects rural areas and women. The consequences of drought and flooding affect vulnerable populations, and the international community must adopt holistic concepts of food systems to assist them. His Government is working to protect its population from hunger, providing food packages to families affected by climate change. FAO cites Nicaragua for its progressive social policies, but the implementation of food solutions requires financing and technological transfers from developed countries to developing ones.
NICOLA ROSEMARIE GABY BARKER-MURPHY (Jamaica), associating herself with the Group of 77, CARICOM and CELAC, noted agriculture accounts for 7.3 per cent of her country’s GDP. As a small island developing State and Net Food‑Importing Developing Country, Jamaica cannot entirely feed its population. Extreme weather events due to climate change, small land holding, limited technology, reduced availability of agricultural land due to urbanization and lack of capital further stress its agricultural development. Noting Jamaica’s high food import bill leaves the country vulnerable to external economic shocks, she acknowledged the importance of enhancing the resilience of its food systems. Noting new food consumption patterns that lead to nutritionally poor diets and diseases such as diabetes, she pointed out that worldwide, some 600 million are classified as obese, a number expected to double by 2030.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, described it as shocking that in the context of today’s interlinked global economy and advanced technology, millions of people still spend days without eating a meal. Expressing support for the Secretary‑General’s timely, action‑oriented recommendations as a basis to reverse the global hunger trend, he outlined Bangladesh’s massive increases in food production over recent decades and attributed them to bold Government policies aimed at transforming the country’s agricultural sector, promoting rural development, empowering marginalized peoples and protecting smallholder farmers and small‑scale producers. Detailing new technological developments as well as the introduction of microsavings for rural, marginalized communities — through a project known as “One House, One Farm” — he nevertheless said climate change impacts threaten to halt the country’s success. Bangladesh now spends more than 1 per cent of its GDP in addressing climate change and is researching salinity‑resistant crop varieties, among other innovations.
ALADE AKINREMI BOLAJI (Nigeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, is concerned that the world, particularly developing countries, is not on track to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2. United Nations projections hold that global dietary consumption patterns mean a future population of 9 billion will require more food, even more compelling for Nigeria, which is forecast to be the world’s third most populous country by 2050. His Government is implementing strategies to end hunger and malnutrition, addressing the entire gamut of food‑related issues, with a central goal to leverage the capacities of Nigerian farmers to feed its population. The country is also boosting business start‑up initiatives, especially for youth and women. Climate‑related uncertainties like drought, floods and crop and animal disease contribute to food insecurity. Given that agriculture cannot thrive without expanded access to financial markets, he hopes initiatives like the Nigerian Incentives Risks Sharing for Agricultural Lending will attract investment.
VITALII BILAN (Ukraine), recalling the starvation his own country suffered 85 years ago, pledged to offer the help needed to address global food insecurity. His country is going through one of the most difficult stages in its history, he said, thanking FAO and WFP for the help they provided Ukraine. Despite its troubles, Ukraine remains one of the strongest players on the international food market, he said, noting that its grain harvest in 2018 was 60 million tons. He encouraged intensified coordination between all United Nations agencies and the international financial institutions and called for a more formal system of global governance in that area.
SOBOTH SOK (Cambodia) said her country has integrated agriculture development, food security and nutrition into their Rectangular Strategy, the National Strategic Development Plan and other relevant national policies. To further develop, Cambodia focuses on investment in rural infrastructure, better plant breeds and promoting high value agro‑industrial crops. Recalling the impact the National Action Plan for Zero Hunger Challenge has had on her country, she said Cambodia has also made important progress in strengthening the social protection system to be more interconnected.
TANG TIANXI (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said eradication of hunger requires sustainable economic growth. The international community should scale up its support for developing countries, assisting them to improve their food‑producing capacities. China attaches great importance to agricultural development, enabling farmers to improve their production capacities, which has led to a steady growth in agricultural capacity. It is promoting mechanical agricultural means to modernize the sector and boost food security. The Government also attaches importance to nutrition, which has improved significantly in recent years. It plans to enhance exchanges with all international partners, assisting others to improve agricultural capacity and improve food security.
ADEL AL AMIRI (United Arab Emirates), associating himself with the Group of 77, reviewed his country’s initiatives to promote sustainable agriculture, including the appointment of a Minister of State responsible for food security. Modern technology and efficient management of natural resources aim to maximize crop production in the United Arab Emirates, he said, adding that a project named “Save the Grace” addresses the problem of food waste while delivering food to needy families. At the international level, he said the United Arab Emirates is diversifying its food sources through agriculture‑related foreign investment. Fruitful cooperation between countries can promote integrated agricultural production, bringing together various areas related to food security while contributing to sustainable development, he stated.
VILIAMI VA'INGA TŌNĒ (Tonga), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, noted the urgent need to secure food systems, and said his country is working in its agricultural sector to reduce the risk of food insecurity and poverty and increase its GDP. In 2018, Tonga launched a new initiative to promote the sustainable use of local food and resources, taking an integrated approach to multisector challenges. Working to find new climate‑resilient agricultural systems, Tonga points to such projects as the Chinese Piggery, Royal Palace Introductory Thai Farming of Integrated Crops, fruit trees, livestock, fish ponds and tree planting. The country is burdened by food and agricultural diseases, but it is making a strong commitment to battle it through increased production of healthy vegetables and fruit trees and reduced imports, which are both costly and unhealthy.
ANTÓNIO GUMENDE (Mozambique), associating himself with the Group of 77, African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said his Government attaches great importance to agriculture, as more than 70 per cent of its population is directly engaged and rely upon this sector for their livelihoods. Small‑scale agriculture for subsistence is dominant, which means more food is needed to meet the demands of an increased population, which grew from 13 million in 1990 to 28 million in 2017. However, the ability to grow crops has remained unchanged due to traditional and rudimentary means of crop production with limited modern technological interventions. It is estimated that 43 per cent of children ages 5 and under suffer from severe stunting, with huge costs for their health and education, while the other portion of the population has yet to achieve ideal levels of food security and nutrition. In improving this situation, the Government has been undertaking reforms aimed at transforming the agriculture sector from subsistence to a more productive and market‑oriented system. It has begun a programme of agrarian mechanization and is ensuring the use of new technologies to respond to the demand for improved seeds resistant to environmental stresses and capable of producing crops in shorter cycles.
Mr. ALAMI (Morocco), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said hunger compels the international community to increase global food production by 70 per cent by 2050 to feed a projected population of 9.6 billion. Although his continent has made striking progress over last decade, the food crisis is real and threatens millions, with conflicts and climate change the main reasons for the rise of food insecurity. Africa cannot feed itself: over 50 per cent of its farmland is unused yet it still spends over $30 billion to import food. Morocco is committed to sharing experiences and savoir‑faire to assist in addressing the issue and has also set up a trust fund as a financial lever for South‑South and triangular cooperation to help African countries sustainably increase agricultural productivity and manage resources. The Green Morocco Plan seeks to invest in and modernize agricultural production.
BÁRBARA BOECHAT DE ALMEIDA (Brazil), associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said the Secretary‑General’s report and the lessons learned at the high‑level political forum held under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council reveal an urgent need to act on the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 2. Progress is particularly needed in rural areas, she said, spotlighting the need for adequate development financing in the framework of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Greater investment in agriculture and rural areas, through international cooperation, is crucial to promoting enhanced agricultural productivity in developing countries — especially regarding family farming. Furthermore, she said, the massive concession of agricultural subsidies in rich nations — which leads to distortions in international food markets — must be curbed once it directly jeopardizes the establishment of robust agricultural sectors in the developing world.
GEBEYEHU GANGA GAYITO (Ethiopia) said his country has been implementing a comprehensive development strategy that puts increasing agricultural production and productivity at its centre. It has continued to implement a comprehensive rural development package, expanding agricultural extension services. Ethiopia has also continued to ensure broader community participation, which puts small‑holder farmers at the centre. As a result, the agricultural sector registered a 6.7 per cent growth rate in 2017. In addition, by carrying out its National Nutrition Strategy, it has been implementing global and regional commitments to address malnutrition. To mitigate and adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change on the agricultural sector, Ethiopia is promoting climate resilient green agriculture. It is mobilizing local communities and undertaking natural resource conservation and management activities like forestry development, soil and water preservation.
Mr. MUSONDA (Zambia), associating himself with the Group of 77, African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, stated that with an estimated 793 million people lacking access to adequate amounts of dietary energy and 156 million stunted children, the world is off‑track in ending hunger. Countries in protracted crisis and conflict risk being left permanently behind. The international community must address the underlying causes of food insecurity and malnutrition, linking short‑term emergency efforts to long‑term solutions. Small‑scale farmers in Zambia still use outdated equipment like the handheld hoe, which must be consigned to a museum. Noting the introduction of tractors and tillers is improving production of women farmers and their families, he stressed that many are still seeding, weeding and harvesting by hand, back‑breaking labour that causes spinal injuries and premature ageing. Women make up 70 per cent of small farmers, and the world needs to offer assistance to end their suffering. In 2017, 48 per cent of children under age 5 in Zambia were stunted and 13.3 per cent underweight. The Government is working to prevent micronutrient deficiency, because unless the world combats hunger, it will not have resilient societies.
LEILA CASTILLON LORA‑SANTOS (Philippines), associating herself with ASEAN and the Group of 77, said that evidence continues to signal a rise in world hunger, with climate change, instability and conflict driving the problem. Her Government is implementing policies that invest in fisheries and small farmers to improve their productivity, with a programme providing small loans from $200 to $1,000 to buy seeds and finance activities. The Philippines urges the global community with the assistance of the United Nations to help advocate and measure efforts and empower stakeholders to fight food insecurity, especially during times of conflict or crisis.
TONY OUTHAITHIP (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating himself with the Group of 77, ASEAN and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the agricultural sector — which employs 70 per cent of his country’s labour force — contributes to overall economic growth and to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. He said his Government is implementing national nutrition strategies to tackle poverty and hunger and is cooperating with ASEAN on an integrated food security framework. The agricultural sector in the country faces challenges, he stressed, noting that unexploded ordinance makes much of its farmland unsafe. He said his Government is committed to eradicating poverty and hunger and stressed the importance of the support and assistance provided by development partners.
SAVITRI INDRACHAPA PANABOKKE (Sri Lanka) said one of key factors in combating global hunger and malnutrition is agriculture. It is essential that the international community enhances efforts to adopt effective agricultural policies, including promotion of sustainable agriculture, rural development and investment in the sector. Climate change has become among the greatest threats faced by Sri Lankan farmers, especially those engaged in producing rice, a staple food. Increasing temperatures and erratic rainfall patterns resulted in severe flooding in 2017, and in 2016 the country faced the worst drought in over 40 years. The resulting destruction of domestic crops had serious implications for food production. The country has introduced “climate smart” agriculture methods to minimize climate‑related impacts on agriculture, like resilient crops, rainwater harvesting, crop diversification and technology.
ARTHUR AMAYA ANDAMBI (Kenya), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the agricultural sector accounts for 24 per cent of his country’s GDP and that 80 per cent of its population derives its livelihood from agriculture‑related activities. Kenya prioritizes agriculture as a “fundamental tool in national development”, he stressed, adding that Government policy focuses on manufacturing, universal health coverage, affordable housing and food security and nutrition. Climate change is “ravaging” the agricultural sector and droughts continue to hamper the quest towards food security. The Government has implemented subsidies on farm inputs and enhanced efforts to provide free education and affordable health care. He stressed the relevance of technology and innovation for farming and said that eradicating hunger requires significant increases in agricultural investment.
KANISSON COULIBALY (Mali), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the agricultural sector is the backbone of his country’s economy, contributing over 30 per cent of GDP. Nevertheless, Mali faces significant challenges including ensuring food security for a growing population, sustainable management of resources, the effects of climate change and making full use of local products in national, subregional and global markets. Mali is also working to advance technological progress in agricultural production, building and providing tractors to farmers and providing subsidies amounting to 13.6 billion West African CFA franc, he said, noting that 15 per cent of the State budget is allocated to the agricultural sector. Grain production has risen from 6 million tons to 8 million tons annually since 2013, marking an 8 per cent increase. In the broadest terms, his Government is aiming for a zero‑hunger goal.
EMILIA VAN VEEN (Finland) said protection of plant health is one of the key aspects in ensuring food security, especially in developing and least developed countries. The international spread of pests and diseases present ever more risks to agriculture and the environment. Crop losses due to these pests can be substantial. FAO estimates that invasive pests are damaging as much as 40 per cent of all food crops globally each year. These pests cause losses in trade of agricultural products of about $220 billion per year. When pests are introduced into new ecosystems, they can have devastating effects on the environment. Invasive pests are among the main factors in biodiversity loss worldwide. A pest epidemic of enormous proportions is underway in Africa due to an introduced fruit fly and the fall armyworm, while olive tree disease is affecting some parts of Europe.
RIO BUDI RAHMANTO (Indonesia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said that rural development and sustainable food production are key to ensuring food security. His country is investing heavily in farmers and rural development, while also focusing on land reform and social forestry. The culinary sector in Indonesia is a leading provider of employment in rural and urban areas. Food and nutrition is closely related to education, he stressed, adding that household access to clean water and sanitation also influenced nutrition. Climate change poses a serious risk to food security, he said, calling for coordinated efforts to bring about a world without hunger.
SUVANGA PARAJULI (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, stressed that the relationship between hunger and poverty is cyclical. Calling for an integrated approach of raising incomes and productivity, he also emphasized the need to secure smallholders’ tenure rights over productive resources, especially for women and youth. Protection of local and indigenous food systems is equally important for food security and for preserving genetic diversity. His country’s Constitution guarantees the right to food, and is prioritizing increasing agriculture productivity, including through modernization of farming, he noted.
YEMDAOGO ERIC TIARE (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the Group of 77, Group of Least Developed Countries and the African Group, said his nation is a landlocked country with a young population. The country’s economy is largely reliant on agriculture, animal husbandry and mining. The agricultural sector is faced with many difficulties, including desertification, climate change, diseases and pests. It has drawn up a national policy for nutrition and food security, which forms part of the country’s larger strategic plan. However, as there is a severe budget issue, which is a bottleneck in how any strategies are carried out, Burkina Faso relies on the support of the international community for implementation.
MOHAMMAD ABDURRAHMAN S. ALKADI (Saudi Arabia), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the increase of population and decrease of arable land make the issue of food security among the biggest problems of the twenty‑first century. The concept of national security demands that a nation provide food that is plentiful, safe and within the means of the population to buy it. Failing to provide enough food is one of the biggest challenges facing a nation, driving malnutrition, hunger and poverty. Noting that Saudi Arabia aids the international community to find sustainable solutions, he pointed to funding of $700 million for projects providing food security, water and sanitation and 190 programmes benefiting countries including Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Domestically, companies are required to label their products with caloric content info. Saudi Arabia is developing practical models at the national level, with 11 executive programmes in the agricultural and other sectors.
TOMASZ GRYSA, observer for the Holy See, expressed concern that — at the pace of current trends — hunger will not be eradicated by 2030. Calling for urgent action to accelerate that pace, he noted that hunger and food insecurity are often exacerbated by conflict. Despite the large humanitarian response to recent crises, he stressed: “While humanitarian assistance is critical to avert famine, it is not sufficient by itself to address the root causes of hunger and starvation.” Instead, more investment in agriculture and increased opportunities for trade are needed. For those developing countries unable to attract private investment, Governments must step in to increase productive capacity. The challenges of hunger and malnutrition flow in large part from inequitable distribution, and unfair trade and exploitative market conditions only discourage farmers from producing more or bringing their produce to market, he said, calling for a stronger emphasis on the “inviolable dignity of the human person”.
CARLA MUCAVI, Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization to the United Nations (FAO) Liaison Office, also speaking on behalf of IFAD and WFP, said the absolute number of people affected by hunger stands at 821 million, reversing 10 years of progress. Conflict, climate change and poverty are among the key drivers. Adding that worldwide, 1 in 9 persons is hungry and 1 in 8 adults obese, she said that latter issue is growing alarmingly in developed countries. Unhealthy diets are responsible for 6 of 10 factors for non‑communicable diseases, impacting not only health but public budgets and national economies. “Another symptom of broken food systems is the predominance of hunger and extreme poverty in rural areas, where food is grown” she said, noting family farmers, responsible for 80 per cent of food production, are often the most impacted. Stating the world must act now if it is to meet the 2030 Agenda, she pointed to tackling food insecurity and inequality through social protection and gender‑sensitive growth programmes, building a new rural‑urban alliance, mobilizing domestic and international investment and compiling reliable, comprehensive and disaggregated data to implement and monitor policies.