Bucharest -- The impact of climate change on food production figured prominently in the words of FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, as he addressed the opening of the Organization’s Regional Conference for Europe here today, attended by delegations from 46 countries.
Graziano da Silva referred to a report released this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which forecasts serious disruptions to agriculture due to shifting weather patterns.
“We need to step up our efforts to mitigate, to adapt and, most importantly, to shift to more sustainable food systems,” he said. “This is one of our core responsibilities.”
The world’s poorest are particularly vulnerable to climate change, he said, because the impact on agricultural production will be felt harder in the already marginal production areas in which they live.
FAO’s intensified emphasis on sustainable family farming was another key theme of Graziano da Silva’s statement, as he addressed delegations to the biennial conference that governs FAO’s activities in the Europe and Central Asia region.
He referred particularly to FAO’s new regional initiative that aims to reduce rural poverty by supporting family farmers and smallholders, by focusing on sustainable production technologies, land tenure issues, access to markets, and income diversification for people in rural areas.
FAO will also advise national governments on policies and strategies in favour of family farming and small-scale production.
A second new regional initiative of FAO for 2014-15 will deal with agri-food trade, improving countries’ capacity to engage more effectively in regional and international agricultural trade and comply with international norms for food trade.
FAO will also work with countries on combating food losses and waste, Graziano da Silva said.
“FAO’s latest estimates point to the need to increase agricultural output by 60 percent to feed the world’s population in 2050,” he said. “If we could reduce food loss and waste to half of its present level, the production increase would need to be only 25 percent.”
FAO’s Europe and Central Asia region has 53 member countries and one member organization (the European Union). The Regional Conference for Europe concludes on Friday 4 April.