Biodiversity, Climate Change and Food Scarcity Problems Are All Linked and Need United Action

By Alison Withers

As 2010 draws to a close there are important conferences coming up, but after the indecisive outcome in Copenhagen last year the question is whether there will be any agreements on tackling climate change at the next summit in Cancun, Mexico, this time around.

Before this there will be a fifth annual biodiversity conference in Nagoya, Japan, on the current state of the world's biodiversity.

Once again the question is whether the conference will result in any concrete and definable steps to be taken to protect the planet's wildlife.

Currently talks are being held in China to draft a negotiating text to be discussed at the Cancun summit which starts at the end of November.

Already, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, has warned that the process will not be easy and suggested that delegates should cut down on the number of options being considered, identify what was achievable and produce the political compromises needed to "deliver on what needs to be done".

An online petition has been set up by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation calling for action on global hunger with the aim of colleting a, million signatures to be presented to the UN in November. The petition can be found at

The accompanying website also sums up neatly the issues that are causing hunger, which brings together many of the current problems in the world.

It argues that hunger is not caused by a lack of food but by poverty which is caused by natural disasters, lack of training, credit and land for poor farmers (many of them women), the unsustainable use of natural resources and the fact that economic crisis disproportionately affect the poor.

The key word in all of this is sustainability.

We are plainly far from running our economies in a way that is sustainable. There is still far too much emphasis on growth as the way out of the current global economic crisis - and this is one of the problems that are hampering any workable agreement on tackling climate change.

It will need innovative ways for countries to make goods to sell and for them to use finite natural resources to do so. It also needs far more effort to be put in to protecting the world's dwindling biodiversity to halt the disappearance of the numerous species of plants and animals that together make up global and local ecosystems and keep them in balance.

But it also requires a great deal more effort to help those poorer communities around the world to have access to the means to earn a living and to grow food in a sustainable way that protects their land and provides both adequate income and nutrition.

Agricultural products are already in development that can help to do this. They include the new low-chem products being researched and devised by Biopesticides Developers. These include using more natural biopesticides, biofungicides and yield enhancers which should all be licensed and made available to the poorer farmers in the world along with affordable access to them and the training to use them properly.

It is sadly debatable whether governments can be persuaded to be more open to co-operation at a time when the economic situation seems to be making them more protectionist and competitive - in farming, on climate change and on protecting biodiversity.

Alison Withers
Article by Alison Withers
Biodiversity, climate change and food scarcity are all due to be discussed at UN conferences before the end of 2010. Consumer writer Ali Withers asks: What chance is there of more agreement and co-operation between countries this time around?

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