While some are focused on tonight’s France-Ireland or Portugal-Bosnia games, another match is taking place in Rome this week. The goal: to find a way to feed 9.2 billion people by 2050.
Since Monday, world leaders, convened at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters for the UN World Summit on Food Security, have been reflecting on the best ways to eradicate hunger. A key solution foreseen is to boost agricultural investment in poor countries. New technologies were also discussed as a way to “produce more food with less” – three polemical initials should come to your mind in this regard – GMO!
But the real wake up call was the warning by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that failure at next month’s international climate change negotiations would result in a further rise in hunger. “There cannot be food security without climate security”, he said. In particular for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, which already are suffering from declining yields and a worrying frequency of extreme weather events.
But can climate change and hunger be solved together? The biofuel example, which has introduced competition between “crops for food” and “crops for fuel” and exacerbated the rise in food prices, proves that if the two problems are linked, then it is necessary to find joint solutions.
UK Minister Jim Fitzpatrick declared that food and climate security were “two sides of the same coin”. Well, the die is cast but there are no doubts about the bets of politicians. If Copenhagen and its preparation have been focusing political attention for over a year, many noted that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was the only G8 leader to attend the UN Food Summit. Let’s just hope that political will is not the only key to buck the hunger trend.
If you want to play a role on the ground, you could start by taking a Fair Trade Breakfast this weekend. This Oxfam initiative should be a convivial opportunity to familiarise people with the issues surrounding global trade and its impact on hunger in poor countries.