Center for Research on Environment, Human Security & Governance
After the huge success of the International Conference on "The Integration of Sustainable Agriculture, Rural Development, and Ecosystems in the Context of Food Insecurity, Climate Change, and the Energy Crisis", held in Agadir in November 2009, the second related conference is expected to sustain the debate within the mentioned context about the below key themes, taking into consideration the current evolutions and required adjustments in perspective and approach. ICCAFFE2011, like the previous Conference, is an acknowledged and distinguished multinational forum that provided early focus on global warming, agri-food, fisheries, and ecosystems from an interdisciplinary approach as well as from a North-South perspective. It is designed to bring together scientists, experts, policy-makers, practitioners, and non-state actors from key disciplines, institutions, companies and networks from all over the world to share research outcomes and relevant experiences; contribute to the setting of future research and policy agendas; and explore necessary networking with regard to their relevant debates.
This conference will in addition address recognized gaps in knowledge, introduce the outcomes of research initiatives to world decision makers (international research centers, funding agencies for development, government representatives, international organizations, foundations…), make significant contribution to the building of workable futures and associated priorities, and explore the way forward in a world where challenges are increasingly observable and where remediate actions are required urgently.
- Target Public
Researchers and experts from institutions in Northern and Southern countries and from a wide spectrum of disciplines (including: social sciences, ecology, meteorology, agronomy, economics, , engineering sciences, marine sciences, etc.) are invited in order to enrich and widen the scientific exchanges. Decision and policy-makers are the second part of the Conference’s target group. Stakeholders from all spheres (especially ministries and other national and territorial institutions, professional organizations, development institutions, advisory and support services, and NGOs) are important invitees. The exchange and interaction between the two categories of actors (researchers/decision-makers) are at the heart of the Conference objectives.
- Conference Context
1. The Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change: Disappointment and Poor Outcome
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, said before the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change in December 2009, "Climate change is the leading ecologic, economic and geopolitical issue of the 21st Century and has even the potential to rewrite the global equation for prosperity, development and peace." After this promising Summit, there was a general feeling of disappointment worldwide over its poor outcome. The major disappointment was the putative failure of the Conference to reach a binding agreement to deal with climate change – especially that the 191 countries, including an unprecedented number of heads of state, were expected to agree in Copenhagen to set long-term climate change objectives and common emission reduction targets, amongst other expected goals. The post- Copenhagen era calls for the reinvention of both approaches and practices with regard to research, innovation and policy. This Conference offers a golden opportunity to stimulate debate and initiatives in this direction.
2. The Global Food Crisis and the Fragility of Governing Earth’s Food Security
The food crisis that continues to shake the global community, has highlighted the fragility of the Earth’s food security, the seriousness of hunger’s consequences, and the inefficiency of the range of policies and programs devoted to achieving sustainable food security. Meanwhile, food security and economic crises have highlighted both the urgent need, and the potential for developing sustainable agri-food systems. Today, over one billion people, or one out of six globally, do not have access to adequate food and nutrition. By 2050, the global population will grow to a projected 9.2 billion people, and demand for agricultural products is expected to double. In the intervening years, agri-food systems will face increasing constraints and volatility driven by resource scarcity and climate change. This raises the risk of production shortfalls. While substantial gains can be realized through improved technologies, policies, infrastructure and investment, it will require an exceptional level of collaboration among stakeholders in the agricultural value chain including individual farmers; consumers and entrepreneurs; governments and companies; and civil society and multilateral organizations.
Moreover, presently there is a worldwide conviction that eliminating hunger is not only essential on the ethical and humanitarian level, but is a prerequisite for economic and social development. Also, recent events have shown that food security is a required condition for world peace and security. Regrettably, despite all international extant commitments, the latest figures on world hunger and malnutrition reveal that the present situation is even more worrying than before. Despite the financial constraints faced by many concerned countries, agricultural investment and safety nets remain the key parts of an effective response to reduction of food insecurity now and in the future. The fact that hunger was increasing even before the latest food and economic crises suggests that present solutions are insufficient and that a right-to-food and a food sovereignty approach have important roles to play in eradicating food insecurity.
3. Depletion of Global Marine Biodiversity: Implications in terms of Food Security and Ecosystem Services
Seas cover more than two thirds of the Earth and are critically important for biological diversity, commercial activities (for example, fishing and tourism) as well as the sea's role in climate regulation. Despite their crucial importance for the survival of Humanity – in term of food security and ecosystem services – global marine biodiversity and fish stocks are in jeopardy, increasingly pressured by overfishing, environmental degradation, and the impacts from human-induced climate change. To reverse this trend, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation had already called for the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Nonetheless, the magnitude of the current problem of overfishing and environmental pollution is often overlooked, given the competing claims of deforestation, desertification, energy resource exploitation and other biodiversity depletion challenges. The rapid growth in demand for fish and fish products is leading to fast increases in fish prices. As a result, fisheries investments have become more attractive to entrepreneurs and to governments – much to the detriment of small-scale fishing and fishing communities around the world as well as for sustainable marine biodiversity and ecosystems.
4. Climate Change, Plant Biodiversity, and Forest Ecosystems
Currently, loss of biodiversity is accelerating despite a global convention committing governments to halt the decline. Many experts say species and habitats are disappearing so fast and there is an urgent need to focus on research that helps scientists and policy-makers understand what is behind the loss. Conscious of the challenge, the UN has recently declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB). Throughout 2010, countless initiatives will be organized to disseminate information, promote the protection of biodiversity and encourage all interested parties to take direct action to reduce the constant loss of biological diversity worldwide.
It is now widely recognized that climate change and biodiversity are interconnected. Climate change will be an important factor behind genetic erosion in future – threatening both the survival of individual species and disrupting the interaction between the different elements of biodiversity and agri-food systems. These interactions provide such "services" as pollination, soil fertility and biological control against plants and animals diseases–that are essential for food production. Small farmers will be affected significantly by the alteration of these services. This irreversible loss of biodiversity will have serious impacts on global food security. Therefore, biodiversity can be preserved and exploited to help food and agriculture to adapt to climate change as long as coordinated efforts are taken nationally and internationally.
In addition, the forest ecosystem is currently considered a key factor for rural welfare (especially for rural population who depend on forest ecosystem services) and climate change mitigation. As forests enable large concentrations of carbon, deforestation and forest degradation are contributing now to the acceleration of the climate change process. The ability of forests to store carbon depends not only on quantity but also on quality: this ability is between 25 and 50 times greater for a natural forest compared to a monoculture forest (interdependency between biodiversity and quality forest). Additionally, the climate change makes additional pressures on forest ecosystems: for example, the Mediterranean region is considered as one of the most vulnerable areas to climate change. Morocco has lost between 1960 and 2007 an annual average of 0.05 percent of the total forest area due to fire.
Overall, conserving natural terrestrial, atmospheric, freshwater and marine biodiversity – and restoring degraded ecosystems – is essential for the goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This is because ecosystems play a key role in the global carbon cycle and in adapting to climate change. Also, they provide a range of ecosystem services that are essential for human well-being and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).