Tuesday, December 11, 2018


Climate change threat to Pacific Isles’ food systems, warn SIDS leaders
Tuesday, 14 November, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Climate change poses an alarming threat to food systems and food security in the Pacific islands. This was stated by leaders of nine small island developing states (SIDS), representatives of regional development bodies, New Zealand and Australia at a meeting which took place ahead of the Pacific leaders’ participation at the COP23 (the 23rd annual Conference of the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Conference), currently underway in Bonn.

The meeting, which concludes on November 17, 2017, culminated in the leaders signing a joint statement – a call for action that they will take to COP23. It was chaired by José Graziano da Silva, director general, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

In the statement, the Pacific leaders called upon all countries to exceed previous commitments and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degree Celsius as above pre-industrial levels, to reduce the adverse impacts on food security and nutrition, coastal habitats and the livelihoods of those depending on oceans.

“The 1.5-degree limit will allow for a greater change at maintaining resilient livelihoods and promote partnerships for sustainable development in the Pacific Islands,” it read.

Non-communicable diseases surge in the Pacific region
The group also raised concerns about the negative impacts of malnutrition evidenced by the growing incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which account for 75 per cent of adult deaths in the Pacific, and called for more proactive and integrated actions to promote policies to tackle food insecurity challenges, especially on issues related to obesity, stunting, wasting and NCDs.

It acknowledged the importance of FAO’s and its partners’ Global Action Programme on Food Security and Nutrition in SIDS, which recommends action at the global, regional, national and local levels to accelerate food security and nutrition, calling for its endorsement and immediate implementation.

With the Pacific Island states highly dependent on their oceans for their livelihoods and food security, the leaders reiterated their anxiety about ecosystem degradation, and called upon the international community to assist in maximising the sustainable utilisation of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors for the benefit of SIDS.

The Pacific Islands are among the most environmentally-vulnerable nations in the world. Drought, extreme high tides, violent winds and storm surges pose major risks to small island nations, and their efforts to achieve sustainable development.

For many islands, the impact of climate change represents the gravest of threats to their survival and viability, including, for some, through the loss of territory.

FAO’s commitment
In his opening remarks, Graziano da Silva shared the Pacific leaders’ concerns about the negative impact of climate change on food security and nutrition and its role in exacerbating the burden of malnutrition as well as the alarming overweight and obesity levels.

“You are suffering from things that you didn’t cause, from things you are not responsible for – the impact of climate change,” the FAO chief said.

“This is what FAO offers – support so that you can face climate change; scale up growing local products as we see you import more and more food,” he added.

“Obesity is a big problem. It is an epidemic that we need to address. Together with partners such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), we promote the uptake of healthy, fresh food – fruits, vegetable and fish instead of processed food,” Graziano da Silva said.

“We promote local products such as breadfruit, for which we have a pilot programme in the Marshall Islands, Samoa and Nauru, and which we want to scale up and multiply,” he added.

With Oceans Day events underway at COP23, the FAO chief also highlighted the importance of the FAO Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA).

He said, “Today’s main tool in the hands of the international community to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.” He urged all Pacific Island states to adhere to the agreement.

“You are countries with more water and natural resources to preserve than any other countries. This is why the Port State Measures Agreement is important,” Graziano da Silva added.

“FAO is committed to support you to implement and monitor your PSMA process. We can provide assistance for your national legislations, training and funding to put the agreement in place,” he said.

“We will not be able to safeguard our ocean environment if we don’t combat illegal fishing,” added Graziano da Silva.

Participants at the high-level meeting included:
    • José Graziano da Silva, director general, FAO
    • Taneti Maamau, president, Republic of Kiribati
    • Baron Waqa, president, Republic of Nauru
    • Hilda Heine, president, Republic of Marshall Islands
    • Yosiwo P George, vice-president, Federated States of Micronesia
    • Henry Puna, prime minister, Cook Islands
    • Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas, prime minister, Republic of Vanuatu
    • Fiame Naomi Mataafa, deputy prime minister, Samoa
    • Joshua Kalinoe, special envoy of the prime minister, Papua New Guinea
    • James Shaw, minister for climate change, New Zealand
    • Aupito William Sio, minister for Pacific peoples, New Zealand
    • Édouard Fritch, president, French Polynesia
    • Colin Tukuitonga, director general, Secretariat of the Pacific Community
    • Dame Meg Taylor, secretary general, Pacific Islands Forum
    • James Movick, director general, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency
    • Andrew Daka, chief executive officer, Pan Pacific Power Association
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