UN High Level Task Force on Global Food and Nutrition Security focusses on responding to the impact of El Niño and climate change

Integrating food and nutrition security in climate discussions on adaptation can accelerate delivery of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

22 June 2016 | NEW YORK – The United Nations High Level Task Force on Global Food and Nutrition Security (UN-HLTF) agreed that the current challenges from El Niño and climate change must be overcome in order to deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. During its first meeting since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, UN Principals agreed to align their work on food and nutrition security in support of the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chairs a meeting of the UN High-level Task Force on Global Food and Nutrition Security. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chairs a meeting of the UN High-level Task Force on Global Food and Nutrition Security. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Chairing a meeting of the Task Force on Wednesday morning, the Secretary-General recounted his recent visits to Ethiopia and Madagascar, where he saw first-hand how El Nino is affecting lives and livelihoods. The Secretary-General voiced his deep concern about the effects that the El Niño has had on the resilience, food security and nutrition of the most vulnerable. He underlined the link between climate action and delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals, and called for a well-coordinated UN system response.

“HLTF is now a proven mechanism for ensuring that the UN speaks clearly and cogently on the major issues of development that are directly related to food, agriculture, nutrition, and ending rural poverty,” FAO Director-General Graziano da Silva stated.

The UN-HLTF analysed El Niño’s impact on global food and nutrition security and challenges for the joint UN System’s response. More than 60 million people have already been affected by the phenomenon. Da Silva noted that 80 percent of the value of all the current El Niño-related appeals and plans (USD 3.2 billion out of a total of USD 3.9 billion) is in relation to food and agriculture-related interventions.

Learn more about El Niño.

The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate, Ambassador Macharia Kamau of Kenya, participated in the meeting and emphasized the work he and fellow Special Envoy Mary Robinson have begun to mobilise the international community.

The UN-HLTF Principals agreed to work together to facilitate the proper integration of food and nutrition security in the climate discussions on adaptation, and to unleash the full potential of sustainable agriculture to deliver increased incomes and resilient livelihoods for small-scale producers – especially women – and to mitigate climate change. Director-General da Silva recognised that agriculture was a contributor to climate change, but noted that it could also be part of the solution – if agriculture and food policies were reformed.

UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Ms. Kyung-wha Kang, Assistant Secretary-General, OCHA. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

While the El Niño phenomenon has declined in strength, its impacts, particularly on agriculture and food security, are still continuing. It is critical to continue responding to the immediate needs of those most affected and to build longer-term resilience. WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said that the La Niña phenomenon, which predictions indicate has a strong likelihood of following El Niño, would lead to increased needs, and underlined the major challenge of raising resources. Assistant Secretary-General Ms. Kyung-wha Kang (OCHA) noted that the number of people affected continues to rise as the humanitarian appeal is revised.

Director-General of the WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, reminded those present that the effects of El Niño also undermined health. Mr. Juergen Voegele, Senior Director, Agriculture at the World Bank, warned that the effects of climate change on food systems would be significant and said that agriculture could also be part of the solution to climate change through reforming food systems, including by redirecting agricultural subsidies – 80% of which are detrimental to climate or environment – into investments in positive outcomes for climate.

Inspired by the Secretary-General’s Zero Hunger Challenge, the Task Force focuses on exercising political leadership, facilitating convergence and alignment and providing high-level policy coordination and coherence in the UN System on issues relevant to the achievement of the SDGs related to food and nutrition security and to sustainable agriculture. Currently, nearly 800 million people, or one in nine worldwide, are hungry.

Download the HLTF Zero Hunger Challenge Advisory notes for action

Chaired by the Secretary-General, the Task Force brings together the heads of the UN agencies, funds and programmes, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).