Johannesburg, South Africa

5 December 2013

Secretary-General's message to Third Global Conference on Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Security and Climate Change [delivered by Mr. David Nabarro, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Food Security and Nutrition]

I am pleased to send greetings to the Third Global Conference on Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Security and Climate Change.

The connections between climate, land, food, economies and livelihoods are complex.  Agriculture is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions.  At the same time, famers worldwide are increasingly feeling the effects of a warming climate.  The answer to these interconnected problems lies in climate-smart agriculture.

My visit to the Sahel last month reinforced my perception of how climate change compounds the challenges for smallholders.  Three major droughts in a decade have exacerbated poverty, conflict and disease among many communities.  The region’s governments are working to help their people become more resilient, but they need international support, including through an ambitious climate change agreement in 2015. 

Generations of smallholders have found ways to deal with unpredictable weather.  But the speed and intensity of climate change is beginning to outpace their ability to adapt: the situation will worsen rapidly unless more efforts are made to prevent negative impacts on food security and nutrition.  Many of the world’s 500 million smallholders are already finding it difficult to produce enough food on increasingly fragile ecosystems.  Much more is needed to strengthen the resilience of smallholders and food systems to potential climate shocks. 

Many initiatives are under way that enable smallholders to access techniques that have multiple benefits.  Agroforestry and diversifying crops with legumes, for instance, can increase income, enhance soil fertility and help to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.  It is urgent to scale up these and other practical measures to realize my vision of a world with Zero Hunger.  This is a world where the elimination of childhood under-nutrition is achieved through sustainable and climate-smart agriculture that benefits smallholders, through eliminating losses and waste in food systems and through increasing all people’s year-round access to nutritious foods. 

I count on leaders from government, finance, business and civil society to work together on solutions to the challenge posed to food and nutrition security by climate change.  That is why I welcome your proposals to develop a Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance.  Next September, I will host a Climate Summit where I will invite all stakeholders to bring bold announcements and actions that can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enable adaptation.  The actions to be taken forward through such an Alliance could make a significant contribution to the commitments and outcomes that are urgently needed.  I wish you every success in the important work that lies ahead.