The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today that climate change-related disasters such as cyclones, flash floods and droughts are likely to have a serious impact on food production in Pacific island nations, and called for urgent measures to adapt to expected losses.
A new report, Climate Change and Food Security in Pacific Island Countries, notes that development efforts in the islands have been seriously constrained by such disasters.
As a result, these countries appear to be in a “constant mode of recovery,” according to the report, published jointly by FAO, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the University of the South Pacific.
“Climate projections for the Pacific island countries are bleak and indicate reduced food security, especially for households,” said Alexander Müller, FAO Assistant Director-General, Natural Resources Management and Environment Department.
“It is critical to build resilience of food systems to avoid enormous future economic losses in agriculture, fisheries and forestry. Countries will have to assess how vulnerable their food systems are and how they can adapt agriculture, forestry and fisheries to future climate-related disasters. There is a need to act urgently,” he added.
While Pacific island countries have already committed to a number of global and regional agreements to tackle climate change, the report highlights the need for a more systematic approach, with national plans involving governments, the private sector and civil society.
“Integrating climate change adaptation into national policies, strategies, programmes and budgets related to agriculture, forestry and fisheries should become a major priority,” noted Mr. Müller.
In particular, countries must review their development policies in these fields in light of new information on climate change.
In addition, farmers should receive the best available information and guidelines on the choice of crop varieties, soil and water management options under changed environmental conditions to avert the risk of crop failures.
“Nations that have pushed for monoculture crop production for foreign markets will need to assess their food security potential,” states the report. “It is well established that diversified agricultural systems will fare better under climate change scenarios.”