ICCCFS Opens with Remarks by IFPRI’s Gerald Nelson

 

ICCCFS Officially Begins

IFPRI senior researcher Gerald Nelson joined Sun Chengyong, Deputy Director-General, Department of Social Development, Ministry of Science and Technology; Qu Sixi, Deputy Director-General, Department of International Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture; Song Changqing, Deputy Director-General, Department of Earth Sciences, National Natural Science Foundation of China; Percy Misika, Representation in China, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); and Tang Huajun, the Vice-president of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) on the ICCCFS opening panel. His prepared remarks follow.

 

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of my Director General, Dr. Shenggen Fan, I would like to welcome you to this food security and climate change research conference. Dr. Fan sends his regrets that he is unable to attend. He has asked me to pass on his congratulations to the organizers from CAAS and the IFPRI-Beijing office for putting together an outstanding conference. He (and I) would like to thank the co-hosts of the conference, the Institutes of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning and of Agricultural Economics and Development of CAAS, and the sponsors, including the National Science Foundation of China, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, and the Project Adapting to Climate Change in China.

Sometime in the recent past, a baby was born who became the 7 billionth human. By the middle of this century we will most likely add another 2 billion human inhabitants to this planet, one that is already beginning to feel the aches and pains of so much use.

The additional 2 billion people will not be distributed evenly. Instead they will be concentrated in the countries that today we call ‘less developed’. As they join the rest of us, they will want to have, and we hope to be able to provide them, with a standard of living that is much better than their parents. Our home, earth, will be asked to provide even more services, of clean water and air, shelter and adequate food. By some estimates we will need to increase the quantity of food produced by 70 percent. Suffice it to say that record harvests will be needed every year from now until at least the middle of this century.

Finding a way to provide sustainable food security for all of us is challenge enough. But we are adding an additional set of challenges, from climate change. Higher temperatures everywhere, coupled with changes in rainfall patterns and the likelihood of more extreme events, from extended droughts to punishing rainstorms to more and more intense typhoons, will threaten all elements of our societies, not the least of which is agriculture.

All farmers, everywhere, will have to adapt. For a lucky few the adaptations will be easy and the rewards large, but for many, many more, the costs of adaptation will be high and divert resources away from meeting the growing needs from more people.

We must also recognize that agriculture is part of the climate change problem but can also play an important role in the solution. While agriculture, broadly defined accounts for about 1/3 of total GHG emissions, it has the ability, unique among economic sectors, to mitigate, by removing carbon dioxide from the air and leaving carbon in the soil. And this process enhances the productivity of the soil and the resilience of agriculture to various threats from climate change.

We must also recognize that agriculture is part of the climate change problem but can also play an important role in the solution. While agriculture, broadly defined accounts for about 1/3 of total GHG emissions, it has the ability, unique among economic sectors, to mitigate, by removing carbon dioxide from the air and leaving carbon in the soil. And this process enhances the productivity of the soil and the resilience of agriculture to various threats from climate change. The many excellent papers in this conference deal with the wide range of challenges of climate change to sustainable food security and possible solutions. I would like to especially highlight the research reports to be presented this morning and tomorrow morning. Leading scientists from 7 countries with important roles to play in managing our collective future have prepared analyses of the food security and climate change issues facing their countries. Tomorrow, just before lunch they will join me to discuss the import of their collective findings and messages to be conveyed from this august group of researchers to the UNFCCC negotiators convening in Durban, South Africa 3 weeks from today. And on Thursday December 1, 11:30-1 pm we will have an official UNFCCC side event in Durban to present the results of their research to the negotiators. I would like to invite anyone in the audience who will be in Durban to attend this side event and also Agriculture and Rural Development Day, on Saturday, December 3.

Ladies and gentlemen, again let me convey greetings from my director general and his best wishes for a successful conference.

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