Ecumenical Advocacy Days webinar suggests solutions as food insecurity grows worse
June 27, 2023
As they prepared to lobby on Capitol Hill about the climate crisis, food insecurity and other significant ills, Ecumenical Advocacy Days participants took in an online session on the role that climate finance can play in securing enough food for everyone.
Across the globe, more than 345 million of God’s children suffer food insecurity. Climate change has made the problem worse through the loss of arable land, disruptions to ecosystems, depletion of water sources and other factors. “As the international community seeks to ramp up climate finance for mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage,” organizers wrote in the webinar description, “how can financing modalities better target synergies with food production and the most vulnerable?”
Aldo Caliari, senior director of policy and strategy at Jubilee USA Network, moderated the two-member panel of Jordan Teague Jacobs, co-director of the Policy & Research Institute at Bread for the World, and Dr. Tinashe Gumbo, program executive for economic and ecological justice at the All Africa Conference of Churches.
Food prices are up about 50% over the past four years, Caliari noted, “and climate change is a significant factor.” In Africa, climate change has driven down food productivity by one-third. “Developing countries face this crisis,” Caliari said, “with budgets depleted by the pandemic.” More than two dozen countries now pay 20% or more of their gross domestic product in debt service.
“Pastoralists face high barriers,” Gumbo said. “We need more systemic ways to address their plight. Resources are needed at the very local level.”
Gumbo, who’s from Zimbabwe, said the situation in Africa “is not detached from the situation in Latin America and other places.”
The most recent U.N. climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, did provide one reason for celebration, Gumbo said: a Loss and Damage Fund, the culmination of decades of pressure from climate-vulnerable developing countries. “It has been on the agenda for several years,” Gumbo said. “Climate finance is one way of funding our food processes.”
Over the previous three decades, world hunger has been cut in half, according to Jacobs, who called that “unprecedented progress.” But climate change “is quickly affecting the planet,” and along with armed conflict, the impacts of Covid and many other factors, “hunger is now on the rise again in our world.”
“Adapting to the impacts of climate change on agriculture and food security are immediate needs that must be addressed,” she said. Many more farmers are now reporting disrupted planting and growing seasons than in previous decades. “One only needs to look to the Horn of Africa right now,” Jacobs said.
Climate change is also damaging food quality. Increased carbon dioxide levels affect soil and reduce the nutrient content of crops. Climate change causes people to leave their homes and farms, and “if agriculture is no longer viable, they need to find other ways of making a living,” she said.
Climate change also disproportionately affects “those who are or have been marginalized,” she said. “Many who did the least to cause climate change are now experiencing the most impact.”
Considering the impacts of climate change, improving agricultural productivity “is essential, but by itself is not enough to end hunger,” Jacobs said. “In a world where we produce enough food, we need to focus on equity. Unless we do something, climate change is going to reverse the progress we’ve made.” By 2030, a projected 100 million people will be experiencing extreme poverty as a result of climate change, Jacobs said.
“There are policies that can help reduce the human costs” of climate change, Jacobs said. One area of emphasis for ensuring food availability and accessibility is by “better preparing farmers and the land to the effects of climate change. We call this climate-smart agriculture,” she said. A second way of ensuring food availability and accessibility is to establish “well-functioning systems of social protection that save lives and livelihoods even in difficult circumstances.”
Mike Ferguson, Editor, Presbyterian News Service
Today’s Focus: Ecumenical Advocacy Days webinar
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Marissa Galvan-Valle, Associate, Hispanic Resources & Relationships, Presbyterian Publishing Corporation
David Gambrell, Associate, Worship, Theology & Worship, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Let us pray
Lord Christ, unite us in our awareness of you, our oneness in you, even across our differing cultures, languages, political affiliations, genders and economic conditions. In that oneness may our idolatries be exposed and expunged and the vitality of our abundant life be celebrated. Amen.