Ramsar message on the occasion of World Food Day – 16 October 2009

15/10/2009

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) invites us at today’s occasion of the World Food Day (16 October) to “Imagine achieving food security in times of crisis” (cf. www.fao.org). The call is supported by substantial contributions from several hundred experts who gathered in Rome earlier this week for a high-level forum to discuss “How to feed the world 2050”, in preparation of mid-November’s World Summit on Food Security.

“Saving Lake Chad – a system under threat” is a theme that figures prominently among today’s events, because this wetland ecosystem exemplifies in a crucial way where today’s challenges for sustainable development are. Or, as Jacques Diouf, the director general of FAO, put it: “global agriculture will have to cope with the effects of climate change, notably higher temperatures, greater rainfall variability and more frequent extreme weather events such as floods and droughts, in addition to a growing scarcity of natural resources such as land, water and biodiversity”.

Much current reflection in the agricultural world is focusing on aspects of economy, demography, technology and policy, on investment needs, cash sources and trade instruments. On the other hand, focus on available resources (land, water, genetics), limits and challenges from climate change and new demands (biofuels) is somewhat limited. The Ramsar Parties, however, have underlined repeatedly during their latest meetings of the Conference of the Parties, today’s challenge to use best the available freshwater reserves, and to maintain the biological (including genetic) diversity as an essential resource for agriculture and food production, threatened by urbanisation, deforestation, pollution and the conversion of wetlands. These issues provide a vast field of overlapping interests between agricultural and wetland interests, as outlined originally inRamsar’s Resolution VIII.34, adopted already in 2002, on Agriculture, wetlands and water resource management. World Food Day 2009 reminds us to reinforce our efforts to bridge possible divides and to work jointly with the agricultural sector for a sustainable world, needing to support more than 9 billion humans by the year 2050.

Anada Tiéga
Secretary General
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

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