Virtual News Conference Highlights Climate-Hunger Link

WFP Executive Director, Josette Sheeran and David Stevenson, Director of WFP Policy, Planning and Strategy during the virtual news conference.

(Copyright: WFP/Kristine Ugstad)

Experts underscored the link between climate change and hunger at a “virtual” news conference connecting the Copenhagen Bella Centre - venue of the COP15 Climate Change Conference - with journalists all over the world. Read report on Climate Change and Hunger

Speaking from a studio in London, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said she had one key message:

“Changes to the climate are not theoretical, they are not only about scientific debate, about the projections for the future, we must act now for the people that are being impacted and for the hunger numbers that are rising in part and in large part due to the action of climate.” Listen to audio excerpt

She summarised the findings of a new report released by WFP, saying that climate change was a critical influence on the prospects for food production and food security, adding that it would merge with other risks, such as farmers facing water scarcity or urban consumers facing food prices. And that the world needed to focus on replacing vulnerability with resilience.

Conserving water in Kenya

WFP is using food to help poor farmers in Kenya become less vulnerable to hunger in future. Watch video

Policy specialists

She was joined by two leading policy specialists, Alex Evans, co-author of the report, entitled  Climate Change and Hunger: Responding to the Challenge, and Phil Bloomer, Director of Campaigns and Policy for the UK-based charity, Oxfam.

Evans, speaking from Washington DC, said that climate change was a “threat multiplier” that made everything more difficult. “What comes out of this is a need to look at the prevention, and not just the cure side,” he said. “Of course we will need to scale up the humanitarian system but actually preventing people from being at risk in the first place by building people’s resilience is clearly the thing that we need to be doing.”

Bloomer, in London, said the WFP report reinforced Oxfam’s own experience. “What came out is that hunger is definitely the greatest challenge people face, but that it is also going to be the future challenge,” he said.

Desertification

Sheeran gave examples of WFP’s work, increasing food production in areas affected by desertification and environmental degradation.  “In China for example through our Food for Assets work, we planted, with the government of China 20 years ago, a billion trees and today the government credits this for helping stabilise food production in that area so they have no dependence on food aid,” she said.

And she gave other examples of projects in Mali and Ethiopia. The government of Ethiopia will highlight a WFP-supported programme at the climate change conference next week (Dec 16) with a presentation of MERET, Managing Environmental Resources to Enable Transitions to More Sustainable Livelihoods.