Saturday, April 19, 2014

Climate Change and Desertification a Threat to Social Stability - UN

A Turkana man herds livestock back from grazing grounds at the end of the day in the disputed area of the Ilemi triangle in northwestern Kenya near the borders with Ethiopia and South Sudan, on October 14, 2013. (Credit: Reuters/Siegfried Modola) Click to enlarge.
What is of higher value than being able to feed your family?  For a significant part of the global population, this means having direct access to productive land – water, soil and its biodiversity – because land is their only tangible asset.

Some 500 million small-scale farmers support the livelihoods of over 2 billion people.  More than 1.5 billion people live off degrading land; at least one billion are poor.  The projected climate trends threaten their livelihoods.

Coping Mechanisms Disappearing

The frequency and intensity of extreme and unpredictable weather events, especially floods and droughts that are linked to climate change, is threatening their livelihoods.  It is upsetting the coping mechanisms they have relied on in bad times, robbing them not just the ability to feed their families, but their dignity as well.

By 2010, 900 million people around the world faced chronic hunger, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report estimates that food demand will rise by 14 percent per decade while yields could decline by up to 2 percent per decade.

Land degradation is part of a toxic mix that is turning hungry people into vulnerable communities that are prone to instability, migration and conflict.  It takes whatever underlying social weaknesses exist and magnifies them.  For countries where social safety nets or alternative sources of income are lacking, underemployed and disenfranchised youth are the obvious targets of radicalization.

Let us be clear, food will be less plentiful or more expensive unless land stewardship on a global scale rises to the top of the international political agenda.  In an interconnected world, a threat to food security is a threat to international security.

Climate Change and Desertification a Threat to Social Stability - UN

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