Hunger & Climate Change: Some Practical Answers?
Tuesday, 7 April 2009, 2.00 - 5.30 pm
at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, One Birdcage Walk, London SW1H 9JJ
Almost one billion people in the world are hungry today. And the world's population will continue to grow until it stabilises at nine billion in the middle of this century, by which time our food systems will have to feed 50% more people than they do today. Achieving this would be a challenge anyway. The likely impact of climate change on agriculture will make the challenge even greater.
2009 was a critical year, with a new US President at the start and all eyes on Copenhagen at the end. It followed a year with a global food crisis, an energy crisis, and a financial crisis in quick succession. The underlying context of global poverty and environmental degradation is unchanged and future crises seem almost inevitable.
But how can we develop sustainable food supplies and tackle hunger in the developing world in the face of climate instability? What would constitute a climate resilient food system? How can we secure sufficient future food supplies and reverse environmental damage?
Professor Watson's speech was followed by a panel debate, chaired by John Vidal, environment editor of The Guardian, focusing on the new policies and technologies for agriculture that will be needed, and how development practitioners will need to respond. Presentations were heard from:
The following presentations are available to view online:
Audio files of all speeches can be downloaded:
Biodiverse agriculture for a changing climate
Climate change will bring enormous and unpredictable changes to agriculture which will affect global food supplies and disproportionately impact on the poor. Emissions of greenhouse gases from agriculture, largely from intensive systems, contribute significantly to global warming. This paper, a summary of some issues in Understanding Climate Change Adaptation, was prepared in collaboration with Barbara Dinham (Director, Pesticide Action Network UK 2000-2006) and explores biodiverse agriculture as a realistic and proven alternative to industrial methods of production. Practised by millions of small-scale food producers and organic growers, biodiverse agriculture can limit and adjust to climate change while replenishing the natural resources on which food production depends.
Download full paper, Biodiverse agriculture for a changing climate (PDF, 334k)
Download summary paper, Biodiverse agriculture for a changing climate (PDF, 329k)
The seminar was followed by a Book Launch and Reception to celebrate the publication of
Lessons from community-based approaches
a new book from Practical Action Publishing, by Jon Ensor and Rachel Berger of Practical Action.
5.45-6.45pm, 7 April 2009
"A useful contribution to our understanding of how communities adapt to climate change." Dr RK Pachauri, Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
"The work is a thoughtful and brilliant application of theory and practice in this crucial development arena." Professor Neil Adger, University of East Anglia