December 11, 2018 – FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today warned of increased conflict and hunger if climate change is left unabated.

Graziano da Silva made the remarks at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum 2018 panel discussion on how to solve the climate crisis, with 2007 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former US Vice-President Al Gore as keynote speaker.

“We will not be able to produce enough for the (world’s) growing population,” Graziano da Silva stressed. Noting that crop yields “will be dropping even in irrigated areas and that all cereals are expected to be affected by “low and erratic production.”

Graziano da Silva cited the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018 report which found that hunger has increased over the last three years, driven largely by conflict and the impacts of climate change. He said that when climate change promotes conflict, such as over access to increasingly-scarce land and water resources, it further promotes food insecurity.

The Director-General noted that a major obstacle for implementing climate change adaptation measures in agriculture is insufficient financing.  A major study carried out by the World Bank in 2010 estimates the cost of climate change adaptation for agriculture to around $7 billion per year.

“The simplest thing to do is plant a tree. We have a project called the Great Green Wall in the Sahel. It is simple: we collect seeds from local trees and multiply them for local women, as the main workforce, to plant. But we don’t have money to scale it up,” he said.

Climate change and nutrition

Climate change also means that “the food produced will be less nutritious,” Graziano da Silva said. “With the level of CO2 that we have, wheat has less protein and minerals, like zinc and Vitamin A, so nutrition will decrease,” he explained. Prices of food products would also increase with FAO estimates suggesting that the price of maize will be up by a third while wheat will double. “More and more people will not be able to afford the food they need,” he said.

Higher temperatures and erratic weather patterns are undermining the health of soils, forests and oceans. Almost 40 percent of the countries that experienced a rise in hunger since 2005 suffered from severe drought during that same period.

The Nobel Peace Prize Forum 2018 is organized by the Norwegian Nobel Institute and Nobel Peace Prize – Research and Information AS in partnership with the University of Oslo.

Other panel members were Professor Katharine Hayhoe, Director of Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, Dr. Thina Margrethe Saltvedt, Head of the Sustainable Finance Division of Norway’s Nordea Bank and Professor Ricarda Winkelmann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

FAO’s work on climate change

Climate change is a cornerstone of FAO’s work. FAO believes that agriculture adaptation must be promoted through the implementation of climate-smart approaches, practices and techniques that also preserve the environment and biodiversity, and adaptation must help build the resilience of millions of poor family farmers.
FAO supports countries in the implementation of sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture. Over the last 5 years, FAO has executed more than 300 of this type of projects and programmes.