FAO in North America

Hungry Planet 16: RIO+20 Special Report

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on June 4, 2012

In the latest episode of Hungry Planet, researchers measure carbon levels stored within Tanzania’s forests; Brazilian farmers turn to sustainable agriculture to rehabilitate the natural environment; and Mali refugees arrive at the M’bera refugee camp in Mauritania in search of food and safety.

The Hungry Planet series showcases how the three UN food agencies – FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme – are working to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges in their joint battle against chronic hunger.

Oxfam welcomes new FAO report

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on May 30, 2012

On the path to Rio+20, a new FAO report calls for a future with both healthier people and healthier ecosystems. The eradication of hunger and malnutrition are key to achieving sustainable development, FAO says.

Oxfam’s Chief Executive Barbara Stocking welcomed the report, saying that it ”rightly places the need to address the scandal of global hunger if we are to develop in a sustainable way”.

“Despite there being enough food for everyone, more than 18 million people are going hungry in West Africa right now and one in seven people in the world go hungry every day,” Stocking said.

“Leaders meeting at Rio +20 in three weeks time must recognize the urgency needed to overhaul the way we grow and distribute food, especially in the face of constrained natural resources like land, water and energy, and the gathering pace of climate change. Improving access to land and investing in small holder farmers – especially women who are often the main producers – is vital if we are to produce food in a sustainable way for us all to have enough to eat now and in the future.”

Read more>>

Achieving food security in a changing climate

Submitted by Rachel Friedman on April 3, 2012

The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, an initiative of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, released its final report at the Planet Under Pressure conference in London last week. In addition to the key policy recommendations it presented in the report, the Commission also release an animated film documenting the major challenges for food security in the face of climate changes.

North American forestry outlook

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on March 28, 2012

Photo courtesy of USDA Forest ServiceThe United States and Canada have experienced large changes in their forest sectors over the past 50 years. A new study just launched by FAO and the UN Economic Commission for Europe looks at these changes and offers projections for the forest sector in the two countries to 2030.

The North American Forest Sector Outlook concludes that over the coming decades North American forests are expected to meet increasing and sometimes conflicting environmental, social and economic demands: issues that warrant policymakers’ attention.

Projections were modeled on three Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenarios: two scenarios assuming the rapid growth of wood-based energy, and one scenario without this assumption. The model, under the IPCC scenarios, accounted for trends in population, income and land use along with emerging technology and predicted changes to consumption patterns for wood products and bioenergy.

Markets for wood products, mainly destined for the construction sector in North America, are projected to recover by 2015 under all three scenarios examined. Projections suggest that, in spite of declining use of paper for media, global demand for other paper and paperboard for packaging and miscellaneous uses will remain strong.

The study is a companion to the European Forest Sector Outlook Study II launched in September 2011. Read more>>

Rural women’s voices: Rose Cunningham Kain

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on March 26, 2012

Rose Cunningham Kain is Executive Director of Wangki Tangni, a women’s community development organization run by and for indigenous peoples on Nicaragua’s Atlantic coast.

A panelist at FAO’s side event, “Unleashing rural women’s voice to end hunger and poverty” during the Committee on the Status of Women in New York earlier this month, Rose provided her perspective on the needs of rural women:

Climate-smart agriculture and green growth – can ICT help?

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on March 5, 2012

©FAO/Hoang Dinh NamThe World Bank, FAO and the e-Agriculture community invite you to explore how information and communication technologies (ICT) can support “green growth” and climate-smart agriculture.

This is the second in a series of discussions following the publication of the World Bank’s “ICT in Agriculture” Sourcebook, responding to the growing demand for knowledge on how to use ICTs to improve agricultural productivity and raise smallholder incomes.

The current forum, which runs from 5-16 March, will look at how ICTs are being used to make farming practices more environmentally sustainable.

Do you have experiences to share on how ICTs are helping improve soil management and land use planning? Or examples of how mobile phones are being used to get climate-smart agriculture information or data to farmers?

Join the discussion.

Agriculture in the international sphere

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on January 26, 2012

The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) has just published the 2011-2012 issue of its annual magazine, SAISPHERE. In this year’s issue, members of the SAIS faculty, scholars, alumni and students explore the theme, “Growth Ahead for Global Agriculture”, to coincide with the school’s “Year of Agriculture”.

The school’s focus on agriculture is an attempt “to restore agriculture to its rightful place in international studies”, according to SAIS Dean Jessica P. Einhorn, who writes:

“Agriculture is key to understanding the foreign policy of nations.”

SAIS visiting scholar Robert Thompson provides an overview of the challenges facing agriculture, examining how resource constraints, climate change and changing demographics threaten food security and pointing to the need for greater investment in rural infrastructure, education, health, and agricultural research and technology transfer to solve the problem of rural poverty through development of both agriculture and the nonfarm sector.

Other features explore such topics as historical and political trends in Indian agriculture, China’s agricultural revolution, trends in agricultural investment, high food prices and economic growth, global fisheries, agriculture’s role in Argentina and Brazil’s economic recovery, and the right to food and foreign land deals in Africa.

Read more or download the complete issue.

A climate quickie

Submitted by Rachel Friedman on January 18, 2012

Do the snowstorms that pummelled the east coast and the midwest of the United States last year stand as evidence against global warming? Well, not necessarily, but this seemed to be a topic of much debate. A recent video produced by the Norwegian TV program Siffer helps distinguish between characteristics of “weather” vs. “climate”. Posted on the blog for the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security research programme of the CGIAR, the video is used as an educational tool to explain the distinction between climate changes and weather variations.

Growing energy and food

Submitted by Rachel Friedman on December 28, 2011

Biofuel crops are not the only sources of renewable energy that farmers can cultivate. A National Geographic Magazine article discusses the emerging practice of constructing wind turbines on Mid-western farmland and the implications for crop productivity. According to research cited in the article, wind turbines could help mitigate extreme temperatures on the farm, keeping crops from overheating or freezing. But this area of study is still in its infancy, and scientists say that more data is needed to present a complete picture of the trade-offs for farmers. If wind farms turn out to be a beneficial fixture on farms, the U.S. Corn Belt could soon be producing a new crop for the market – wind energy.

Climate change could worsen extinction crisis

Submitted by Steve Hirsch on December 6, 2011

Photo: ©FAO/Steve TerrillClimate change is likely to accelerate biodiversity loss, threatening more animal species with extinction as their habitats change, according to a new FAO report released earlier this week.

Wildlife in a changing climate examines likely ecosystem and landscape changes in forests, mountains, wetlands, coastal areas, savannahs, grasslands and steppes and their impact on physical conditions, weather patterns and ecosystem functioning.

“Terrestrial, freshwater and marine wildlife will be severely affected unless we manage to cope with climate changes through decisive planning and action,” the report says.

Climate change will affect such physical conditions as snow cover and sea level and result in increases in the irregularity and severity of such extreme weather events as droughts and floods, the report says.

Wildlife consequences, according to the report, include the emergence and increased spread of pathogens, affecting wildlife, humans and livestock; more conflicts between humans and wildlife over the same dwindling resources; and ecosystem changes.

The report also considers a number of responses to climate change, including protecting current ecosystems, adaptive management – such as moving species away from changed ecological conditions or modifying habitats, and restoring degraded ecosystems, particularly those like mangroves, forests, savannahs and grasslands that are important for climate change resilience.

Read the full report.

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