10 October 2018, Rome - Climate change is one of the most urgent issues of our times. Its catastrophic effects are affecting the planet, human society and agricultural production. Indeed, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fifth assessment report says that global crop yields could decline by 10 to 25 percent by 2050.
As part of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) 2018 Year of Plant Health and Environmental Protection, the IPPC Secretariat organized a seminar exploring the relationship between plant health, climate change, and environmental protection. The seminar took place on 10 October 2018 at FAO Headquarters, and was attended by over 90 participants. The seminar was opened and moderated by Mr. Jingyuan Xia, the IPPC Secretary.
In his opening remarks, The IPPC Secretary Xia underlined how climate change affects the dynamics of regulated plant pests; and how the IPPC community has played an active role in defending the environment and preventing the spread of plant pests and diseases.
The Deputy Director of the FAO CBC Division, Mr. Zitouni Ould Dada, delivered a speech on the multi-level impacts of climate change on plant health. Mr. Ould Dada pointed out how climate change affects plant health and plant genetic resources. For example, the incidence of pests and diseases in new areas would increase with potentially devastating effects on food security, the environment and trade. The impact of climate change could increase the risk of the emergence and spread of pests and pathogens, including more pest species interactions. This could contribute to a lack of genetic diversity in crop production and increase the vulnerability of crops.
Professor Gianni Gillioli, Head of the Agrofood Lab at the University of Brescia, approached the topic from a quantitative perspective. After showing how global changes affect the environment, agriculture and society, Prof. Gillioli explained the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) scientific framework for quantitative pest risk assessment. He highlighted that the framework was suitable for considering multi-dimensional, systemic and non-linear effects related to global changes, and offers the possibility of expressing the risk in monetary units.
Finally, Mr. Brent Larson, the Implementation Facilitation Unit (IFU) Leader of the IPPC Secretariat, highlighted the progress made by the IPPC community in contributing to environmental protection since the Convention came into force in 1952. For example, the IPPC community’s work has contributed to the goals of landmark agreements such as the Montreal protocol and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Today, the IPPC Secretariat, in its coordination role, is becoming more and more important in driving the IPPC’s mission forward, while addressing the new challenges derived from climate change.
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