U.N. Organizations Discuss Impacts Of Climate Change

News item 1: Climate Change To Affect Future Food Availability

Climate change will directly affect future food availability and compound the difficulties of feeding the world's rapidly growing population, stated officials with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) at the opening of a U.N. climate change conference on Nov. 6 in Nairobi, Kenya.

In an address to the conference's scientific and technical body, Castro Paulino Camarada, FAO representative in Kenya, stressed that greater attention must be given to the impact of climate change on agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and on mitigation and adaptation measures.

According to Camarada, there are a number of areas where FAO's expertise can contribute to mitigating the effects of climate change.

"There is likely to be a significant transition toward biofuels during the next 50 years, with agriculture and forestry among the leading sources for both liquid and solid fuels," he said. "Although there is no single solution for all countries, bioenergy has a role to play in both climate change adaptation and mitigation."

With the right technologies, converting biomass such as wood and crop residues, grass, straw and brushwood into fuel could provide an abundant supply of clean, low-cost energy while helping spur economic development in rural communities, raise farmers' incomes and improve food security, according to FAO. Crops like sugar cane, corn and soybean are already being used to produce ethanol or biodiesel.

In the field of forestry, FAO believes that better forest management can play a key role in global efforts to deal with climate change. When over-harvested and burned, forests become sources of the greenhouse-gas emissions. At the same time, forests and the wood they produce capture and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, playing a major role in mitigating climate change, according to FAO.

Camarada highlighted FAO's recent hosting of a U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change workshop on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from deforestation in developing countries and emphasized the organization's readiness to provide technical support in this area.

For more information, contact FAO at http://www.fao.org.

News Item 2: Climate Change Threat to Natural, Cultural Heritage

Cultural and nature-based heritage sites -- from Charles Darwin's favorite barrier reef in Belize to archaeological sites in Scotland -- are increasingly threatened by climate change.

Some of these priceless treasures are at risk as a result of impacts like rising sea levels, flooding and storms. Others, including mosques, cathedrals, monuments and artifacts at ancient sites are threatened by changes in historic and local climatic conditions.

These in turn may lead to subtle but damaging shifts in moisture levels affecting structures directly, or the chemistry and stability of soils in which they are found.

These are among the findings from a new report, "The Atlas of Climate Change: Mapping the World's Greatest Challenge," compiled by researchers with the Stockholm Environment Institute with assistance from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The findings, unveiled on Nov. 7 at a U.N. climate change conference Nairobi, Kenya, are based on new studies by researchers across the globe.

Achim Steiner, U.N. under-secretary-general and UNEP executive director, said: "Adaptation to climate change should and must include natural and culturally important sites. New research by UNEP and partners shows that coral reefs in the Indian Ocean, damaged by bleaching events in the late 1990s, are recovering better in Marine Protected Areas whereas those exposed to impacts from costal developments and pollution are faring far worse."

For additional information on the report, go to http://www.earthscan.co.uk.

UNEP's climate change Web site for the climate conference is http://www.unep.org/themes/climatechange/UNFCCC.

This article originally appeared in the 11/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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