By Jeff Haskins and Dan Klotz
As Asia’s monsoon season begins, leading climate specialists and agricultural scientists meeting in Bangkok warned today that rapid climate change and intensified droughts and floods could devastate Southeast Asia’s important role in the global rice trade and pose a significant threat to millions of people across the region and global food security.
The conference on climate smart agriculture in Asia is being convened by the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutes (APAARI), the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Last year’s record flooding in Thailand and Southeast Asia was preceded by a record drought in 2010. These and many other extreme weather events have hammered global food prices, stretching their impact beyond the immediate personal and ecological tragedies. Climate change in South and Southeast Asia is expected to reduce agriculture productivity by as much as 50 percent in the next three decades, with a dramatic impact on stability and livelihoods. In response, agriculture must become more productive, resilient and above all climate-friendly.
“The debate on whether climate change is happening or not is not taking place in the fields,” said Raj Paroda, Executive Secretary APAARI. “Now, we must think about what the research community needs to do to catalyze governments to prioritize climate-smart agriculture as the central part of Asia’s climate resilience strategy.”
South and Southeast Asia is home to more than one-third of the world’s population and half of the world’s poor and malnourished. Agriculture is the backbone of most economies in the region.
Farming, along with forestry and land use change, also account for almost one third of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Some of the most innovative approaches to reducing these emissions have been developed in Asian countries.
“Climate change is real. The effects are happening now. Future projections highlight an increase in their frequency,” said Jerry Lengoasa, Deputy Director of the World Meteorological Organization, a convener of the meeting. “We need to use evidence and lessons learned to find sustainable solutions that ensure the well-being of our future earth.”
Some of the work being presented at the conference looks at:
This blogpost was written by Jeff Haskins and Dan Klotz from Burness Communications, attending the Climate-Smart Agriculture Conference in Bangkok, Thailand. More updates from the conference will be published on this blog, and on Twitter @Cgiarclimate and Facebook.
CCAFS Coordinating Unit - University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Rolighedsvej 21, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark, phone +45 35331046; Email ccafs [at] cgiar [dot] org, EAN 5790000279012
Lead Center - International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)