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Impact of climate change, hunger and poor nutrition to be explored at major international conference

15.04.2013, 00:01 GMT


Former US Vice-President Al Gore and representatives of communities living on the frontline of climate change among those who will attend

The Government and the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice will host a major international conference today and tomorrow (April 15 and 16) to explore the links between climate change, hunger and poor nutrition and their impact on the world’s most vulnerable communities, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello and Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, announced today.

The conference, which is being organised in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), will be opened by President Michael D Higgins.

 “Hunger – Nutrition – Climate Justice 2013” takes place in Dublin Castle and brings together global leaders, policy-makers and scientists with representatives of communities from Africa, Asia and Central America who are striving to produce nutritious food sustainably in regions which are most affected by climate change. The conference is being hosted as part of Ireland’s EU Council Presidency.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore: Ireland is recognised internationally for our leadership on tackling hunger in some of the world’s poorest communities.

Former US Vice-President Al Gore, Ambassador Patricia Espinosa, of the UN High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda; EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs and almost 100 representatives of communities living on the frontline of climate change are among those who will attend to explore the linked challenges of hunger, under-nutrition and climate change.  President Joyce Banda of Malawi will provide a video message to delegates.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore TD, said:

“Ireland is recognised internationally for our leadership on tackling hunger in some of the world’s poorest communities.  We dedicate 20% of our overseas budget to the fight against hunger, focusing on improving the productivity of smallholder farmers in Africa and combating poor nutrition among mothers and children.

“But as climate change increases the frequency and severity of droughts and floods and makes food more difficult to produce, we need innovative solutions to support communities on the frontline. By bringing together leaders and policy-makers with those who are directly affected by hunger and climate change, the conference will help us to determine how we can support vulnerable farmers and householders.”

It is expected that Hunger – Nutrition – Climate Justice 2013 will generate a number of clear recommendations about steps that need to be taken to support vulnerable households as the world reviews the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello, said:

“This conference is an expression of the priority the Irish Presidency places on development issues.  We are bringing together people from developing countries to hear their experience of existing development policies and their solutions for improving food security. I look forward to learning from the experience of smallholder farmers from countries including Ethiopia and Malawi. It is critical that the lessons we learn are taken into account in international policy discussions.”

President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, Mary Robinson, added:

 “The links between hunger, undernutrition and climate change are clear to see once we listen to the experiences of the poorest and most vulnerable people, who battle through unpredictable weather patterns in their struggle to feed their families. With crops destroyed, food prices surge, pushing millions into poverty and hunger.

“Often, when people are in positions of power and influence, the most important thing they can do is listen to those they seek to help. This conference gives voice to those most in need, and provides an essential opportunity for policy makers and leaders to listen, learn, and as a result, lead.  I hope that what policy makers hear and learn at this conference can help them to play their part in shaping a new development agenda.”

It is expected that “Hunger – Nutrition – Climate Justice 2013” will generate a number of clear recommendations about steps that need to be taken to support vulnerable households as the world reviews the UN Millennium Development Goals.

“This meeting presents us with a golden opportunity to influence and enrich the process of drawing a roadmap for what comes after the UN’s Millennium Development Goals,” said WFP Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin.  “Ensuring that people everywhere have access to nutritious food is a foundation for future prosperity particularly when it underpins our approach to communities that are feeling the impact of climate change.”

Conference delegates will seek to couple farmers’ traditional knowledge and adaptation practices with scientific innovations to reduce hunger, improve nutrition and help communities to adapt to climate change.

“This meeting is an opportunity to put food security through climate smart agriculture at the top of the political agenda,” says Frank Rijsberman, CEO of the CGIAR Consortium. “And while doing so, let’s make sure our research agendas continue the G8’s commitment to the world’s poor, by focusing on the needs of smallholder farmers – they have the least capacity to adapt and will be the most affected by climate change.” 

“Hunger – Nutrition – Climate Justice” is supported by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF).

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