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Climate change and food systems

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P. Pingali
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This short paper discusses the implications of climate in relation to agricultural production and food security. The paper highlights the agro-ecological zones (AEZ) approach, used to quantify the regional impact and geographical shifts in agricultural land and productivity potentials. The AEZ approach analyses the implications for food security resulting from climate change and variability. It has been developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).The paper states that the AEZ approach indicates that the developing world would experience an 11% decrease in cultivable rainfed land, with consequent declines in cereal production. Sixty five developing countries will lose about 280 million tons of potential cereal production as a result of climate change, the paper claims.However, the paper emphasises that current AEZ estimates refer to cereal production, with changes in actual cereal production more difficult to assess. Changes in production potential, the paper claims, indicate an increasing stress on resources induced by climate change in many developing countries.The author claims that industrialised nations will see a considerable potential for expansion of suitable land extents and increased production potential for cereals, only when considering the use of new land at high latitudes to maximise productivity.In addition, the paper highlights that land-use changes and the development of improved bio-energy systems have been identified as important means of achieving sustainable rural development among small and poor land users. The author endorsees climate change mitigation through sequestration and carbon substitution.This paper was presented at the OECD Global Forum on Sustainable Development: Development and Climate Change, Paris 2004.