Climate change, renewable resources and food security: From global to local scale

Understanding the global and local context to better design efficient adaptive strategies

Access to natural resources is a central issue for people's livelihoods in developing countries. Inequalities in accessing and managing natural resources lead to irreversible vulnerability situations and global threats in terms of economic, environmental and social objectives. Participants will discuss the links between climate change and production systems such as marine and terrestrial renewable resources, and how they reinforce inequalities at the global and local scale. Examples from Africa will be discussed from sectors such as fisheries and agriculture. The subtle links between climate change, the global economy and local socio-ecological systems will be presented. Potential solutions will be discussed to mitigate existing conflicts related to access to natural resources in Africa.

Key points

  • Climate change is leading to food security problems.
  • Breaking the vicious circle connected to climate change is critical.
  • It is key to increase access to land resources for women and indigenous people.
  • It is important to provide information about the weather, help small farmers organise themselves in cooperatives, and work with natural ecosystems.

Synopsis

The discussion focused on the links between climate change and production systems such as marine and terrestrial renewable resources and how they reinforce inequalities at the global and local scale. It was pointed out that one of the effects of global warming is that the seawater off western Africa is getting warmer. This is leading to some species of fish moving northwards towards Morocco and southern Europe. In addition, rising sea levels mean that fishing infrastructure/housing along the coast is being lost. Many communities depend on fisheries in Senegal, which is the top fish consumer in western Africa. As stocks decline, fish becomes more expensive, leading to food insecurity. A potential health problem is that women sometimes buy fewer vegetables so they can buy fish. It was pointed out that there is a vicious cycle between climate change and inequality: climate change in the developing countries makes the most vulnerable become even more vulnerable. If inequalities are not addressed, there is a risk of reinforcing them and missing opportunities for nature conservation and sustainable development. It is important to break this cycle. Potential solutions include investing in training and education, boosting collaborative research between African countries to help leaders make decisions based on science, the transfer of efficient technology and promoting fair trade. It was pointed out that many people in developing countries depend heavily on natural resources for their food security. A solution here is to increase the security of tenure of women and indigenous people to land resources, including via collective tenure systems. This is not politically easy but is workable. It was highlighted that this is a fundamental enabling condition for food security and the reduction of inequality. One participant suggested a solution to the problem of climate change and inequalities. Make information about the weather more accessible. That means information about what sort of weather, such rainfall patterns and extreme weather events, will be affecting farmers in the next agriculture season. Other solutions include helping small farmers organise themselves in cooperatives so that they can have access to weather information, to financial capital, and, for example, go to the bank together to ask for a loan for agricultural machinery such as tractors. Another solution is to work with natural ecosystems so that they act as protective buffers against climate change (for example, mangroves on the seashore).

Insight

While all parts of the agriculture food chain are vulnerable to climate risks, there are solutions to each of the problems – including having storage systems on stilts so that rainfall does not damage the harvest or having better drainage on transport routes.

Organised by

Speakers

Moderator
Philippe Cury
IRD representative Brussels
Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD)
Etienne Coyette
European Commission DG DEVCO
Gernot Laganda
Chief of Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Unit
United Nations World Food Programme
Djiga Thiao
Researcher
Centre de Recherches Océanographiques de Dakar-Thiaroye
Jenny Springer
Director Global Programme Governance and Rights
International Union for the Conservation of Nature