Food and Water Security Growing Urgent as Climate Talks Proceed

Written by Sandra Rodriguez on . Posted in Learn, The Wonk Room

Here at the Cancun, Mexico UN climate talks, the World Bank hosted a series of interesting discussions on the links between climate change and water.

My colleague Brian Richter, The Nature Conservancy’s global freshwater lead, was on a panel hosted by one of the best moderators I’ve ever seen, Rene Carayol from the BBC. The panel included Molly Brown, a NASA researcher, and Bai Mass Taal, executive secretary for the African Ministerial Council on Water.

While the focus was supposed to be on climate change adaptation and global freshwater issues, the discussion veered into food and water security. Brian summed it up nicely: “This is like playing roulette on steroids,” with climate change moving water sheds, and stronger and faster droughts and storms serving as the steroids. For the average person, like me, who is not a climate “wonk,” this really brings it home.

Food security is an issue that will affect us all – not just the poor farmers in Africa, but also the commercial farmers in the United States. NASA presented amazing data and satellite mapping tools that will help farmers protect their crops from the more-frequent occurrence of droughts and hazardous weather.

One note that was made by Mr. Taal, who is from Gambia, is that all of this new technology must be combined with the on-the-ground knowledge of farmers. In turn, Brian noted that in order to succeed, we must find the “nexus between high technology and local knowledge.” Now the question is: how do we do that on a global level?

With two billion people around the world fully dependent on wetlands, rivers and lakes, these issues aren’t going away any time soon, and we would be wise to confront them sooner rather than later.

Sandra Rodriguez is the media-relations manager for climate change and marine issues at The Nature Conservancy

Photo by: Ami Vitale/On assignment for The Nature Conservancy (A farmer carries a basket made of bamboo which is used to harvest produce and carry it to market in Yunnan Province, China.)

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