Video Remarks for Global Climate-Smart Agriculture Summit

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 9, 2015

Hello, everyone. I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person today, but I did want to share my thoughts with you at the Global Forum on Innovation in Agriculture. I want to thank Deputy Prime Minister, Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed, and the people of the UAE for hosting this important conference and for demonstrating continued leadership on some of the world’s most pressing issues.
Today, there is no greater challenge than feeding the world’s growing population. Across the globe, over 800 million people are going hungry because they don’t have access to nutritious food. And the numbers of people will only grow as we reach 9 billion on the face of this planet during this century. If we want to ensure that this crisis doesn’t grow worse, we need to find a way to produce far more food – and waste much less.
So we need all of you – the world’s leading experts on agriculture – to muster every ounce of courage and innovative energy you have. We need you to increase productivity; help farmers adapt; and, where possible, mitigate the damage caused by a changing climate. Because none of our accomplishments will be enough if we don’t concern ourselves with what we put in the air; we can’t guarantee food security unless we curb the harmful impacts of climate change.
These impacts are visible everywhere we look. In Somalia, farmers till cracked earth, that is untouched by rain in many months. In India, families can only watch in anguish as unseasonal monsoons wash away young crops. In Central America, unusual weather quietly spreads devastating plant pathogens. In North America, blistering wildfires roar through our mountains and forests. And from the Caribbean to the coasts of Africa, whole communities are threatened by dwindling fish stocks and rising sea levels.
If we are to solve our growing food crisis, we have to address head-on the direct connection between climate change and food security. That’s why we launched the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture at the U.N. last September. The GACSA is an important platform for bringing together scientists, farmers, businesspeople, and governments – encouraging all of them to contribute their best ideas – and raising awareness of the urgent need for action.
So if your country or organization is not a member of the Alliance, please join. We want you, and we need you. Because whether your company’s revenue stream or your nation’s very existence is on the line, we all have a stake in improving productivity, nutrition, and climate resilience.
Climate change will actually affect every single one of us one way or another. So I encourage each and every one of you to think hard about what you can do to improve the lives of the most vulnerable amongst us.
We really need you to take action at home and seek out new partners; it’s exactly what we are doing here in the United States. We need you to create new drought-resistant seeds; develop irrigation techniques that maximize our limited water resources; train local farmers in sustainable and resilient practices; and rehabilitate degraded land in order to spare forests. We need you to tell your leaders that an ambitious, durable, and inclusive global agreement on climate change is essential to our shared future. And we have a chance to get that agreement in Paris this December.
I couldn’t be more pleased that so many people from so many countries – and, frankly, all walks of life – that all are committed to meeting our food security needs. With the right focus, the right attitude, and the right collaborative spirit, we can create a sustainable world where no one goes to bed hungry and no one wakes up without knowing where their next meal can be found. That is absolutely not an unreachable dream; it’s a reality that remains potential if we will make the choices we need to make. So I hope everybody will join in that effort. We’ve met these challenges before. And I assure you, we can meet them again.
Thank you and keep up the great work.