30.06.2019 |

Promote sustainable agriculture and tackle climate change, UN and Pope urge

Climate change will hit the poor (Photo: CC0)

Climate change will have the greatest impact on those living in poverty, threatening democracy and human rights, a UN expert has warned. According to a report released by the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, the divide between rich and poor will continue to widen. “We risk a ‘climate apartheid’ scenario where the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger, and conflict while the rest of the world is left to suffer.” He described it as perversely that people in poverty who are responsible for only a fraction of global emissions will have to bear the brunt of climate change, while having the least capacity to protect themselves. Alston warned that climate change threatened to undo the last 50 years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction. “It could push more than 120 million more people into poverty by 2030 and will have the most severe impact in poor countries, regions, and the places poor people live and work,” Alston said. “Even if current targets are met, tens of millions will be impoverished, leading to widespread displacement and hunger.”

Even the unrealistic best-case scenario of 1.5°C of warming by 2100 will see extreme temperatures in many regions and leave disadvantaged populations with food insecurity, lost incomes, and worse health, Alston said in a press release. Many will have to choose between starvation and migration. “Addressing climate change will require a fundamental shift in the global economy and how States have historically sought prosperity”, the report highlights. “This will entail radical and systemic changes including incentives, pricing, regulation, and resource allocation, in order to disrupt unsustainable approaches and reflect environmental costs in entire economic subsystems including energy, agriculture, manufacturing, construction, and transportation.” And a shift to sustainable agriculture would also presents additional job opportunities, the Special Rapporteur writes.

Pope Francis issued another appeal this week, urging for the cooperation of all in order to tackle the “scourges of hunger and food insecurity” in the world. Addressing the 41st General Conference of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, he said that the increased numbers of refugees throughout the world in recent years shows that one country’s problem is a problem of the entire human family. “For this reason,” he said, “agricultural development needs to be promoted in the most vulnerable regions, strengthening the resilience and sustainability of the land.” Monsignor Fernando Chica Arellano, head of the Holy See delegation to the FAO, called for more investment in sustainable agriculture to solve the grave problems of migration, hunger and poverty in the world. Arellano underscored the importance of promoting policies aimed at developing youth entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector, such as by facilitating young people’s access to land, security and protection of ownership of their land and access to credit and local markets so that they can remain in rural areas. If people are forced to abandon their lands and homes to escape poverty, conflict, persecution, the harmful effects of climate change or natural disasters, they are often trapped in the vicious circle of poverty. He appealed to FAO to formulate policies that support and sustain rural families so that they can maintain their identities as transmitters of values such as the custody of traditional knowledge, and to strengthen the irreplaceable role of women in the agricultural and livestock sectors. (ab)

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