World Environment News

Climate Change Hits Pacific Region Food Security - FAO

Date: 03-Dec-08
Country: ITALY

MILAN - Ocean warming, frequent tropical cyclones, floods and droughts are likely to have a devastating impact on food security in Pacific island countries, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Tuesday.

FAO's report on climate change and food security in the Pacific islands region comes as delegates from 187 countries meet in Poland for UN talks aiming to move closer to a deal on new climate treaty in 2009 to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

"Climate projections for the Pacific island countries are bleak and indicate reduced food security, especially for households," Alexander Mueller, FAO's assistant director-general said in a statement accompanying the report.

FAO's joint report with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the University of the South Pacific is published on its Web site www.fao.org.

Warning about possible "enormous" economic damage to the region's agriculture, fisheries and forestry, Mueller urged the countries to move quickly to adapt these sectors to future climate-related disasters.

"There is a need to act urgently," he said.

A devastating mixture of droughts and floods would bring water stress, more pests and weeds, erosion and loss of soil fertility to the region's agriculture which depends heavily on summer rains, the statement said.

Expected increases in sea water temperature, coastal inundation, salinisation and erosion of soil would cut the size of productive agricultural land and hit fishery, threatening local food security, FAO said.

Fish consumption in Pacific island countries is very high, with an average of 70 kilogram per person per year, and fish exports account for as much as 70 percent of total exports in some countries, the report said.

Pacific island countries which have been relying too heavily on external resources in dealing with climate change should work out their national policies with programmes and budgets for sustainable development, the report said.

It urged nations which have pushed for monoculture crop production for foreign markets to diversify their agriculture.

(Reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova)

Reuters
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