Climate change and food security in the Pacific
This brief has been prepared for the UN Convention on Climate Change meeting in Copenhagen, December 2009, to raise awareness of the imminent impacts of climate change on food security in Pacific island countries and territories and to urge participants to consider the importance of mainstreaming food security in climate-related policies, strategies and programmes.
By providing a snapshot of the imminent impacts of climate change on food security in Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs), this report illustrates the need to mainstream food security within climate change policies, strategies and programmes and the need to combat climate-related vulnerability through the effective implementation of National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs). It also advocates "climate proofing" existing food security initiatives and broadening the NAPA process to include all PICTs as further steps to improve food security and combat the impacts of climate change in the region.
Currently, food security and climate change have disconnected policy agendas. At the Copenhagen COP15 climate change negotiations, PICTs must ensure that food security and climate change policies are harmonized and mutually supportive. Careful consideration must be given to the impact of climate change on food security, and building the resilience of the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors to safeguard food security in a time of multiple crises and risks.
Despite the fact that PICTs make negligible contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions rates (0.03 percent), they find themselves - unfairly - facing the frontline of climate change impacts. Climate change seriously threatens ongoing regional development and the very existence of some low-lying atoll nations in the Pacific. It is projected to increase the inherent vulnerability of PICTs, many of which rely heavily on imported fuel and food products and are susceptible to natural disasters and climate variability. In addition, climate change and climate variability are projected to have heavy impacts on the agricultural, forestry and fishery sectors within PICTs, threatening complex food webs, livelihoods and, ultimately, the ability of Pacific Island people to produce and access safe and nutritious foods that meet their dietary and cultural needs.
Within the contexts of globalization, urbanization and rapidly growing PICT populations, PICT governments and their development partners must work harmoniously to ensure that food security issues are adequately mainstreamed into regional and national climate change adaptation programmes, and that the region's existing initiatives to improve food security and build a minimum degree of food self-resilience are adequately "climate proofed". Failure to take action will significantly undermine basic human development in PICTs and erode the inroads that have been made towards achieving Millennium Development Goal 1, which aims to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.