International climate action needed now, says top UN official

Without coordinated global action on climate change, it will be increasingly hard to reduce poverty in the world's poorest countries, said UN Development Program Administrator Helen Clark. Clark's visit to campus comes a few weeks before global climate negotiations are set to begin in Doha, Qatar. 

She highlighted ways in which climate change will, and is already, impacting food security in the world's most vulnerable regions: 

  • The IPCC’s climate projections indicate that an increasingly dry and hot climate will make sub-Saharan Africa less suitable for agriculture, reducing the length of growing seasons, lowering yields, and shrinking revenue. Some African countries could see agricultural yields decrease by 50 percent by 2050.
  • Researchers studying the Indian Ocean have concluded that human-caused warming there will make rainfall in the Horn of Africa even more erratic and severe drought more frequent.
  • The cumulative impact of extreme weather, rising temperatures and water stress on staple crops is making global food prices more volatile. Food price spikes disproportionately impact the world’s poor who spend up to 75 percent of their income on food--sparking riots and instability.
  • The World Food Programme estimates that climate change will put 20 percent more people at risk of hunger by mid-century.