There has been mixed reaction to the outcomes of the Copenhagen Summit on climate change, although it seems reasonable to assert that it fell short of anything that could be seen as a ‘glass is half full’ result – perhaps one quarter full, with imminent danger of more evaporation occurring.

The voices of the poorer countries certainly drew some attention, even if many of their concerns were ignored. Just how consistently those concerns are being ignored could be ascertained from the dismal outcome of another summit which received far less attention – the Hunger Summit, also known as the World Summit on Food Security, organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and held last month in Rome. 

The problem of hunger is already severe. While more than enough food is being produced to feed all the world’s people, we are doing a very bad job of ensuring that all those people are able to access food.

UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon told the summit that “more than 1 billion people are hungry. Six million children die of hunger every year, 17000 every day.”

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FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf stated that

“Eliminating hunger from the face of Earth requires 44 billion dollars of official development assistance (ODA) per year to be invested in infrastructure, technology and modern inputs. It is a small amount if we consider the 365 billion dollars of agriculture producer support in OECD countries in 2007, and if we consider the 1,340 billion dollars of military expenditures by the world in the same year.”

There is a lot of evidence which suggests rapid climate change is going to make things worse for food production in a number of poorer countries, especially in Africa. It is also estimated that a global average temperature rise of 2 degrees will actually mean a rise of more than three degrees in many parts of Africa. Climate change and hunger are linked, so the failures at Copenhagen compound failures at the Hunger Summit. But it also gives us plenty of good reasons to keep building the pressure on governments from wealthy countries – including our own – to act.