Climate Change is worsening world Hunger, says Irish Government

01/03/2013 at 7:41 am Leave a comment

On 28 February, an interesting article appeared on Euractiv. Penned by Irish Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore; Mary Robinson, president of the Mary Robinson Foundation Climate Justice; Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the World Food Programme; and Frank Rijsberman, the chief executive of CGIAR, a global agricultural research partnership.

It said that climate change is threatening the precarious existence of millions of small farmers.

“Imagine a world where too much rain, or too little, means the difference between a life fulfilled and a life blighted by hunger and poor nutrition. Imagine, for a brief moment, measuring your children’s chance of survival by the number of bags of grain you harvest or against a dwindling stock of rice. This is the reality for millions of vulnerable communities. Today, almost one billion people suffer from hunger, most of them women and children. Globally, almost one in three children grows up lacking the nutrients they need to fend off disease and to develop to their full potential. And now, climate change is exacerbating the hardships they face daily.”

“In many parts of the world, four out of five people depend on farming to survive. These traditional farmers, many of them women, live in regions where they are perilously exposed to the tiniest shifts in weather patterns.”

The article flagged a conference organised by the Government of Ireland and the Mary Robinson Foundation Climate Justice, in Dublin in April, focusing on the linked challenges of hunger and climate change. See ‘Hunger, Nutrition, Climate Justice 2013‘.

That conference will bring some 100 smallholder farmers and vulnerable people living on the frontline of climate change together with NGOs and Government representatives, in a bid to have their grassroots experiences of growing food in a world impacted by climate change influence the policy debate in Europe. The meeting will take place in Dublin, as Ireland is holding the rotating Presidency of the European Union.

“The conference will bring together these local people and practitioners who are facing the realities of rising food prices, failed crops and under-nutrition and global leaders, policy makers and scientists. We want to ensure that our future policy approaches are firmly rooted in the reality of lives and in objective evidence of what has worked and what has not. This conference comes at a critical point in international development.”

“This year, the international community will review progress on the Millennium Development Goals, two years before the target date for their achievement. Policy discussions will also begin on the new framework that will shape all of our development work after the 2015 deadline. Our shared hope is that the Dublin conference will inspire innovative solutions to support vulnerable farmers and their families not just to survive, but to thrive, and to provide the food we need to nourish our growing population.”

Irish NGOs, too, have decided to focus on these issues. In early February, they launched their manifesto for the Irish EU Presidency, setting out what they think the EU should do to combat poverty, hunger and climate change.

“Ireland’s recent history has clearly shown that our fate as a nation is inextricably linked to that of the international community. For Ireland to
prosper, we need the global community to flourish, and for people in Ireland to benefit from globalisation, they need the knowledge and skills to thrive in an increasingly inter-dependent world. The EU Presidency is an opportunity to highlight these interdependencies, and to raise awareness and understanding of global issues. The Presidency will have been a success if it has increased people’s understanding of the role of the EU, and of the EU’s citizens, in tackling global challenges. As such, the Presidency is a unique opportunity to influence EU decisionmaking, but also to support active global citizenship across the 27 EU Member States.”

And if that is all a bit too much to read, simply watch this 2-minute video.

PS: In the same week as this article appeared, the Irish Government published its long-awaited draft Climate Bill.

Irish NGOs were quick to point out that, for a Government that says it is concerned about Climate Change, the draft Bill is remarkably weak on targets for reducing Ireland’s contribution to Climate Change.

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