FOOD, LAND and WATER
People and civil society organizations around the world have been raising alarm over the worsening food crisis. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, food-poor people have increased by 112 million more, bringing the total number of those who could not afford healthy diets to 3.1 billion in 2020. In 2021, 31.9 percent of women worldwide did not have access to affordable, sufficient food, compared to 27.6 percent of men. Inequality also increased during the pandemic, with the wealth of billionaires and corporate profits soaring to record levels. In the food sector, the wealth of billionaires increased by a billion dollars every two days.
According to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change is already affecting every inhabited region across the globe. Its impacts are projected to increase in the coming decades -- at 1.5°C of global warming, there will be increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons while at 2°C, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health. Agriculture absorbs the disproportionate share of 63% of impact from these disasters, with the least developed countries (LDCs) and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) bearing the major brunt of these scourges.
With more intense and frequent extreme weather events and longer dry seasons devastating countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa, people and communities in the Global South suffer the most from the impacts of climate change on our food systems. The most affected are the livelihoods of smallholder and subsistence farmers, pastoralists, and fishers. The climate impacts on agricultural production include rainfall regime change, an increase in the amount of heavy rainfall, diseases, and insect damage. The effects on fishery production include seawater warming, ocean acidification, increased frequency of debris flows, rainfall regime change, typhoon intensity, and sea level rise. The impacts on coastal and offshore fishery production include the disappearance of part of the sedentary and migratory species; a change or going away of seasonal swimming habits, which leads to decreased fishery production; a change in the composition of caught species; an imbalance in the ecosystem; and increased difficulty in fishing operations.
Today, as the Global South commemorates World Food Day, we call on our world leaders to urgently address the food crisis, especially in the face of the escalating climate crisis.
Much of the current responses to the food and climate crises rely heavily on technologies that promise to increase agricultural yields, improve crop resilience, and ultimately address food scarcity at the expense of our land, oceans, and forests, further threatening the livelihoods of small food producers, rural communities, and indigenous peoples. These corporate-led and profit-driven responses are not real solutions to the problem.
According to the UN Special Rapporteur on Food, the world is still in a food crisis today and faces the threat of rising rates of hunger, famine, and malnutrition because many governments and international institutions have failed to listen to the most vulnerable communities and respond to their demands. They have refused to cooperate and coordinate, and have decided instead to enable agri food businesses.
In the face of the climate crisis, we call on governments to act decisively to build robust and climate resilient food systems that prioritize their citizens, not the global market.
We call for robust, sustainable, climate-resilient, and agroecological food systems aimed at producing adequate and healthy food for all. Unsustainable industrial agricultural production systems are significant contributors to climate change with high emissions of greenhouse gasses – in particular from concentrated livestock facilities and excessive use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer.
We call for actions to strengthen food systems that are aimed at producing for domestic needs instead of the global market; ensure equitable access and distribution to sufficient and nutritious food; end the promotion of false solutions and harmful technologies; and protect the rights of food producers, especially women who comprise 60% of agriculture workers.
Finally, we call for actions to change the dominant ways of producing food and rapidly shift from the carbon-intensive corporate-dominated, industrial agricultural systems to sustainable, climate-resilient agroecological systems aimed at producing adequate, healthy, and affordable food for all.