Shaping the Future Food Security in the Light of Climate Change

Rey Baro Lara, ELP 2013, Philippines

Climate change adds another challenge to the world food production system – a system that ensures adequate food supply and sustainable management of natural resources. Many parts of the world are already faced with serious deterioration of the agricultural production systems. In 2010-2012, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that 870 million people (1 in 8 people) were suffering from chronic undernourishment. 

Image iconRey-Lara_2.jpgWith respect to world population, climate change posed a major challenge to food and agriculture production. It will increasingly affect food availability, food accessibility, food utilization and food systems stability. As a result, there will be a catastrophic impact on human health, livelihood assets, food production, and distribution channels, as well as changing purchasing power and market flows. It is upsetting to note that vulnerable and food insecure people are likely to be the first affected. Can we imagine that those with agriculture-based livelihood systems are faced with immediate risk of crops failure? Adding to this, the worst scenario is that the food systems will also be affected through possible internal and international migration, resource-based conflicts, and civil unrest triggered by climate change and its impacts. Given this scenario, the agriculture sector must respond to the challenges of climate change. Therefore, the aim is to dramatically increase agricultural production to meet increased demands and to secure world food security, while maintaining the natural resource base and responding to the challenge of climate change through adaptation and mitigation measures. 

Achieving enhanced resilience in the face of climate change, I think, requires implementing and strengthening the adaptive capacity of investments, policies, and institutions. Such policies and investments require increasing the resilience of agriculture communities through the development of climate change-sensitive technologies, establishment of climate-resilient agricultural infrastructure and climate-responsive food production systems, and provision of support services to the most vulnerable communities.

A stable and supportive policy environment that makes such programs available and profitable is, I assume, also a critical factor. This can be achieved through the improvement of risk-reducing mechanisms (i.e. guarantee, insurance) to encourage more banks and other lending conduits such as cooperatives and NGOs to lend to agriculture and fisheries, and through the implementation of innovative risk transfer mechanisms such as a weather-based insurance system. As part of the overarching policies of reducing risk and increasing the adaptive capacity, from my perspective as a Land Use Planner, there is a need to rationalize the agricultural land use plan or the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) to incorporate natural hazards and climate risk (i.e. areas prone to flooding, soil erosion and landslides, etc.) and allow strict implementation of adaptation and mitigating measures in climate-risk and disaster-prone areas. In addition, to achieve more resilient farming communities, it is essential to strengthen the capacities of communities by safely and effectively responding to climate risks and natural hazards, and to continue conducting the vulnerability and adaptation assessments, especially in food production areas.

Shaping the future food security in the light of climate change needs to be supported with sound development policies, which are necessary but not sufficient to affect the necessary agricultural adaptations to climate change. A pro-growth, pro-poor development agenda that supports agricultural sustainability is vital, including more targeted assistance to improve resilience. It will also be important to take into account the special needs of women in agriculture. Effective implementation of an agenda for climate change adaptation will require mainstreaming climate change and adaptation into development planning, reforming climate-related governance and institutions, and undertaking massive new investments.

In conclusion, sustainable food production and climate change responses should go hand in hand.  There are many climate and weather risk management strategies that fit squarely into sustainable agriculture and fisheries practices and can, therefore, be promoted through several of the programs and policies targeting environmentally responsible production. Above all, integration is a key feature for both practicing and promoting sustainable food production and for developing climate change adaptation policies.