October 16: World Food Day

October 16, 2015
by 
Geneviève Talbot, Research and Advocacy officer

[...] there is a great variety of small-scale food production systems which feed the greater part of the world’s peoples, using a modest amount of land and producing less waste, be it in small agricultural parcels, in orchards and gardens, hunting and wild harvesting or local fishing. Economies of scale, especially in the agricultural sector, end up forcing smallholders to sell their land or to abandon their traditional crops.

Pope Francis, Laudato Si (129)



Each year, World Food Day is celebrated in more than 150 countries with the aim of raising awareness of world hunger and to encourage people to act. The date marks the anniversary of the 1945 founding of the Food and Agriculture Agency of the United Nations (FAO).

On this international day, Development and Peace wants to highlight how the climate crisis we are currently experiencing is interconnected with our global food system and agricultural practices. Development and Peace’s campaign, Create a Climate of Change, raises awareness of the impacts of climate change and invites Canadians to take action both politically and personally. One of the recommendations made by Development and Peace through this campaign, and which is put forward in the report Feeling the Heat, is that the Canadian government should support methods of agricultural production that contribute to a sustainable food system, because food, agriculture and climate change are all closely linked.

Addressing the problem of hunger, as much here as in countries of the Global South, is a real challenge due to the increasingly dramatic impacts of climate change. In this context, agriculture has a strategic position: on the one hand, it offers solutions in the struggle against hunger, and on the other, it is an indispensable way to combat climate change. Methods of agricultural production are emitters of greenhouse gases; but when done differently can also be essential components in adapting to climate change. In this regard, false solutions that do not challenge our lifestyles and production methods but seem to provide a solution to the problem of hunger can be attractive.

“Climate-smart agriculture” is a good example of one of these attractive false solutions. This concept may seem promising, but it is an approach that does not specify the criteria for determining what can be described as an "intelligent" response to climate change. In addition, smart agriculture incorporates many and varied models ranging from agribusiness to agroecology. In a recent joint statement, more than 350 civil society organizations, including Development and Peace, expressed their concerns of climate-smart agriculture and urge policymakers to support agroecology instead.

The principles underlying agroecology are promising, both in terms of reducing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change. This approach encourages the food production of small-scale farmers who use techniques that draw from both traditional farming practices and innovations developed by the farmers themselves. Furthermore, practices based on agroecology use natural inputs and are therefore less dependent on fossil fuels than industrial farming practices. For more information on agroecology, you can consult the Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology. (The Forum took place in Nyéléni, Mali, in February 2015.) To learn more about the relationship between food and climate issues, we invite you to watch a video produced by GRAIN and VIA Campesina that is supported by Development and Peace.

Does the state of our planet worry you? Tell our policymakers loud and clear and sign our action card so that together, we can create a climate of change!