Doha, Qatar, April 24, 2012

“Better and fuller understanding of linkages between trade, climate change and food security is urgently needed”.

This was a key conclusion of CUTS International and South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE) joint session on “Climate change, food security, and trade: Challenges and opportunities”. The session took place at UNCTAD XIII CSO Forum to hear presentations from experts and discuss possible opportunities and challenges that climate change presents for trade and food security. It was attended by a number of developing country ambassadors, other country delegates, and representatives of international and non-governmental organisations.

Nathan Irumba, former ambassador of Uganda and Executive Director Southern and Eastern African Institute for Negotiations and Information (SEATINI), stated that climate change is a reality in Africa. Extreme weather events have adversely affected agricultural production while a large majority of population still depends on agriculture for its livelihood. Moreover, trade, contrary to classical theory, has not led to improvements in agricultural productivity. According to him, the challenge for developing countries is to increase agricultural productivity while adapting to climate change.

According to Mark Halle, Director, Trade and Investment, and European Representative, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the three issues of trade, climate change and food security were symptomatic of the need for greater global cooperation. However, the multilateral processes and negotiations in these areas remain stalemated because of the lack of equity. There is growing disenchantment with the existing model of economy. He felt that the green economy can address these concerns. He also emphasized that US$100 billion required annually for climate change adaptation is not large when viewed in the context of US$650 billion annual subsidization of carbon-based fuel.

Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Dhaka, and former ambassador of Bangladesh to the WTO and UN Office in Geneva informed that a recent CPD study has showed the adverse impact of climate change on agriculture and food security in Bangladesh. Climate change, trade and food security have both horizontal and vertical linkages which should be studied. According to him, the issue of policy space for developing countries is not limited to trade only. Developing countries need policy space to deal with a number of other issues as well, e.g., public finance, climate change, food security, etc. He also felt that food chains that are led by multi-national corporations should find ways for equitable integration of small farmers in these chains.

The participants congratulated CUTS International for launching its work on trade-climate change-food security linkages. They pointed out a number of instances from Asia and Africa where agricultural production has not kept pace with growing population and hence endangered food security. Many countries in Africa that used to export food, have become food importers. Climate change will further exacerbate the situation.

The discussion at the event concluded that knowledge-creation and capacity building on trade-climate change-food security linkages is urgently needed. This will allow stakeholders in developing countries to better understand the challenges and find holistic solutions.

For more information, please contact:
Kshitiz Sharma, Assistant Director CUTS International, +974-55004828 (Doha, Qatar),