Climate change: agriculture is part of the solution
Presentation of FAO report : "The State of Food and Agriculture 2016 : Climate Change, agriculture and food security"- Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 1st November 2016
Thank you so much chère Carla Mucavi, thank you for your introduction and for your kind words.
Chère Carla, Ambassador Williams, Cynthia Rosensweig, Halldor Thorgeirsson, Rob Vos, chers panelistes, and dear Excellencies,
It is a great honor to be with you this afternoon and I am glad to co-host this important meeting with my dear friends the Ambassador of Indonesia and the Ambassador of Morocco, on the occasion of the release of the FAO’s “State of Food and Agriculture 2016 : climate change, agriculture and food security.”
I will be brief because we all look forward to the presentation of this document per se.
I actually looked at the report very carefully and I must say this is a very compelling document: clear, concise, concrete, and well-argued. This is the kind of report that is immensely helpful, not only for experts but also for policymakers, and for what we are trying to do here at the United Nations.
On top of it, this report could not have been more timely and relevant: Paris and New York have set out a global roadmap on sustainable development and climate change. We have a shared agenda now. In a few days – on November 4 – the Paris agreement will enter into force, less than one year after the Paris conference.
If you think about it, this is, according to UN standards, quite an extraordinary achievement! And most importantly it shows that the international community is really united and supportive and strongly believes that the Paris roadmap is the way to go and – as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said – “there is no plan B because there is no planet B.”
Now we have to translate this agenda and these principles into action. And agriculture will be a very important part of this. So I just want to take this opportunity to share a few thoughts with you on agriculture and climate change.
My first point is, as this document rightly stresses, that the double challenge of eradicating poverty and hunger and combating climate change are closely related.
Why? At least for two reasons:
First, the poorest people are the most vulnerable and most exposed to global warming, and they are also those who suffer from malnutrition and hunger. So there is no way you can fix poverty and hunger if you do not fix climate change.
Second, global food consumption is expected to rise by 60% by 2050. And agriculture accounts for roughly one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. So we definitely need to cut carbon emissions from agriculture in order to stabilize our climate. There is no other way.
And if we wait too long to change farming methods to cut carbon emission, it will get much harder to stop global warming.
My second point is: hopefully these challenges are within reach, because agriculture has huge potential. The FAO report sketches out a number of viable and promising options.
Some are low-hanging fruit – like reducing food waste (nearly one-third of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted post-harvest) or spreading best practices.
Some are more costly, like developing new technologies and changing consumption patterns.
But these advances, and this is the good news, are doable : we can make it!
And actually one of the great things about the Paris agreement is the recognition that agriculture is a big part of the solution.
And that is why 90% of the national strategies (the so called “INDCs”) that member states have come up with in terms of mitigation and adaptation have a key agriculture component.
For instance, France has developed a number of strategies to cut agricultural emissions and improve efficiency. We also have made proposals to help agriculture get more resilient and better capture and sequestrate carbon in the soil (the French acronym is the “4/1000” initiative).
Likewise development banks have developed substantial agricultural strategies.
Obviously there will be tradeoffs. The report says, for example, that deforestation may have a short-term cost for farmers.
But by and large, there is no alternative, and these advances are a global win-win, especially for the poor in the poorest countries.
My last point is a bit more specific: the report insists on smallholder farm families. My government believes this is critical. There are nearly 500 million of them; they lack capacities and face many barriers in terms of getting access to better farming methods, and they are particularly vulnerable to climate change.
So we should do our utmost to help this huge – and too often overlooked – part of the global economy.
In closing, let me just reiterate my appreciation for our great cooperation with the FAO, in general, and in New York in particular.
And let me take this opportunity to close with a broader point: we need not only to implement the SDGs and the Paris agreement, but to speed up implementation. The achievements of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stand out; we must build on his great legacy. For that, you can count on France’s commitment.
I want to thank you again for your initiative and I am looking forward to a great presentation and a productive conversation today on what I consider one of the most important issues here at stake at the UN. Merci beaucoup.