UN Expert: To Address Climate Crisis, Ditch Industrial Agriculture

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UN Expert: To Address Climate Crisis, Ditch Industrial Agriculture

Climate change "could subject an additional 600 million people to malnutrition by 2080."

A farmer from Ocongate district near Cusco in Peru.  (Photo: Oxfam International/flickr/cc)

Just weeks ahead of COP21, a United Nations expert has warned that climate change poses a major threat to global food security and stressed the need to ditch industrial agricultural approaches in favor of agroecological ones.

"Increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather, rising temperatures and sea levels, as well as floods and droughts have a significant impact on the right to food," Hilal Elver said in a statement Tuesday. "All these climate incidents will negatively impact on crops, livestock, fisheries, aquaculture and on people’s livelihoods," she added.

The incidents, she said, "could subject an additional 600 million people to malnutrition by 2080."

Echoing many food justice groups, Hilal said, "Responding to the food demand through large-scale production oriented agricultural models is not the right solution."

"There is a need for a major shift from industrial agriculture to transformative systems such as agroecology that support the local food movement, protect small holder farmers, respect human rights, food democracy and cultural traditions, and at the same time maintain environmental sustainability and facilitate a healthy diet," she said.

Explaining agroecology in an interview with The Moon magazine last year, Elver said, "There are two simple phrases that summarize it: feeding the world without destroying the planet, and applying ecological principles to agriculture."

Hilal's call for the shift follows a similar statement issued last month by the international peasant farmer movement La Via Campesina which called for a "just solution to a global climate crisis" to be prioritized at COP21, the upcoming UN climate conference in Paris where delegates will hammer out an agreement to address global warming.

Previous COPs "have continuously failed to protect and advance people's most fundamental human rights—including the Right to Food—sending delegation upon delegation to climate talks that prioritize private interests over public welfare," La Via Campesina stated.

But those "[c]orporate solutions are false solutions, and will not solve the climate crisis," their statement declares. "Our solutions are real solutions, and should be prioritized by the UN."

For Elver's part, she urged that any agreement coming out of the UN climate conference "must include a clear commitment by all relevant parties to ensuring climate justice and food security for all."

Activists are gearing up for mass climate justice actions during the climate talks, hoping to put tens of thousands of people on the streets in a show of people power.

"Politicians aren’t the only ones with power," a call-to-action from 350.org states. "If enough people agree that it’s time for the world to move in a new direction, and push together, the world will begin to move."

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