World told to get serious about climate change amid global food security fears

The president of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has told the world’s leaders they have to do more to tackle climate change and avert a global hunger crisis.

Alvaro Lario was speaking as global leaders arrived in New York for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), warning they needed to rebuild trust, reignite solidarity among nations and rescue the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“The climate crisis hinders our efforts to eradicate hunger and poverty,” said Lario. “The growing global population is dependent on a diet that places significant pressure on increasingly scarce land and water resources. This exacerbates inequalities and social unrest,” said the President of the only UN development agency that focuses exclusively on rural areas.

“It is imperative to invest in building resilience and in adaptation to climate change. This cannot wait. Investing in small-scale food producers is also vital to ensure a food secure future. And sustainable, biodiverse food production is essential to achieve sustainable development and climate goals. This also means investing in the livelihoods of the most vulnerable men and women around the world.”

Lario highlighted recent natural disasters like the earthquake in Morocco and extreme weather events such as the flooding in Libya last week, as events which should act as a catalyst for change, Lario emphasised that developing countries and the world’s poorest and most vulnerable women and men are on the frontlines of climate change and development gains can be quickly lost when shocks occur.

He said the IFAD continues to build momentum as a UN agency and international financial institution that is fit-for-purpose. The recent declaration issued by G20 leader’s gathered in New Delhi emphasized IFAD’s role in the “fight against food insecurity,” and encouraged member states to replenish the UN Fund’s resources at the end of the year, when its 178 member states will pledge their donations and enable the fund to bring to scale investments that will transform the lives of millions of vulnerable people in rural areas.

Emmanuel Macron, President of France, continued to champion IFAD’s campaign at the recent G20 Summit in New Delhi, India. “We need [a successful replenishment] because IFAD works to improve agriculture and food production systems in many countries, particularly those affected by the ripple effects of war,” he explained.

Janet Yellen, United States Secretary of the Treasury, also highlighted IFAD’s role at the G20 Summit: “We hope to move forward efforts such as supporting the global agriculture and food security program and working towards a successful replenishment of IFAD.”

Lario explained if current trends continue, 575 million people will still be living in extreme poverty in 2030. It is estimated that there will be as many people suffering from hunger by 2030 as in 2015 (600 million people).

“Hunger remains a political issue, mostly caused by poverty, inequality, conflict, corruption, and overall lack of access to food and resources. In a world of plenty, which produces enough food to feed everyone, how can there be hundreds of millions going hungry?” he added.