Oxfam, a collaboration between 17 organizations that have banded together to work at solving the issues of worldwide poverty and injustice, recently performed an analysis on “how well the world’s food system is prepared for the impacts of climate change.” Oxfam’s analysis states that the global food system is “woefully unprepared” to deal with the challenges presented by climate change but emphasizes that “there is still time to fix the problem.” Available on Oxfam’s website since Tuesday, the 20-page paper titled Hot and hungry — how to stop climate change derailing the fight against hunger, made its assessments by looking at “ten key factors that influence a country’s ability to feed its people in a warming world.” Oxfam outlines, in each of these ten food and climate policy and practice areas, “what is happening and what is needed to protect our food systems.” The report calls the difference a gap, and each area is given a score from one to 10 based on how large or small Oxfam has determined the gap to be.
Here are the key policy and practice areas and their respective scores:
Adaptation Finance — The funds that developed countries are obliged, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to provide poorer countries to help them adapt to a changing climate. Score: <1/10
Social Protection — Programs that ensure access to food, prevent the selling of vital assets in order to eat, and keep children in school. Score: 3/10
Food Crisis Aid — Humanitarian aid. Score: 6/10
Food Stocks — Buffer against food price spikes and erratic harvests. Score: 5/10
Gender — Inequality prevents a wealth of agricultural resources in the form of women’s knowledge and participation from being utilized. Score: 5/10
Public Agricultural Investment — Small-scale food producers make up 80 percent of the world’s hungry people and need continued public support to build resilience. Score: 7/10
Agricultural Research Gap — Seed diversity is crucial for changing weather conditions. Score: 2/10
Crop Irrigation Gap — Over 80 of world’s crops are rain-fed. Irrigation is necessary in a warming world. Score <1/10
Crop Insurance Gap — Increases a farmer’s ability to cope with climate change. Score: 2/10
Weather Monitoring Gap — Good weather data gives farmers more certainty about planting and harvesting times.
Oxfam’s report addresses evidence to be published next week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the scientific body that releases assessments on global climate change. Copies of the Panel’s fifth such assessment have been leaked, and the report shows that governments, especially in poorer countries, might need to adapt more quickly than previously thought. A main effect of this reduction in adaptation time will be that the world will experience severe hunger due to climate change within the next 30 years. In 2050, Oxfam estimates that a number equivalent to all of the children under five years old in Canada and the U.S., which equals 25 million, will be either severely hungry or malnourished. The report makes it clear that climate change will effect both rich and poor, and that “no country’s food system will be unaffected by worsening climate change.” The first sentence of the report, however, states that “hunger is not and need never be inevitable.” Oxfam’s report identifies where the world is and where it needs to be. It is just a matter of doing what it takes to get there.
By Donna Westlund