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FAO: Climate change threatens food security of Pacific island countries
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22:13, December 02, 2008

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Ocean warming, frequent tropical cyclones, flash floods and droughts are likely to bring a devastating impact on food production systems in Pacific island countries, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Tuesday.

Climate change-related disasters have already seriously constrained the development of these islands, the FAO said in a new report entitled "Climate Change and Food Security in Pacific Island Countries."

"Climate projections for the Pacific island countries are bleak and indicate reduced food security, especially for households," said Alexander Muller, FAO assistant director-general for Natural Resources Management and Environment Department.

"It is critical to build resilience of the food systems to avoid enormous future economic losses in agriculture, fisheries and forestry," he said.

"Countries will have to assess how vulnerable their food systems are and how they can adapt agriculture, forestry and fisheries to future climate-related disasters. There is a need to act urgently," he added.

Increasing coastal inundation, salinization and erosion as a consequence of sea-level rise and human activities may contaminate and reduce the size of productive agricultural lands, thus threatening household and local food security, said the report.

The projected sea-level rise and sea surface temperature changes will most likely result in the decline of fisheries productivity and food security. Most of the ecosystems on which coastal fisheries depend will be adversely affected, it said.

Though Pacific island countries have already committed to a number of international and regional agreements to address the impact of climate change, their response "can be described as being project-based, ad hoc and heavily dependent on external resources," said the report.

"Integrating climate change adaptation into national policies, strategies, programs and budgets related to agriculture, forestry and fisheries, should become a major priority," Alexander Muller said.

The report also calls for a more systematic approach to climate change, with national development plans serving as the basis of adaptation measures.


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