Agriculture and food security in climate sensitive areas in the Mediterranean
The Mediterranean region is characterised by very limited arable land resources, 95% of which are already farmed (UfM, 2016). With almost no room left for the expansion of cultivated areas, the future of Mediterranean agriculture and its contribution to food security relies on the preservation of fragile lands threatened by climate change, unsustainable exploitation and population growth.
In the water-poor Mediterranean region, people have always had to cope with scarcity, developing adaptation strategies to meet their most essential needs. However, the adaptation capacities in place are put to the test by climate change, which threatens to increase the number of water-poor people in the region from 180 million in 2013 to more than 250 million within the next 20 years (MedECC, 2019). In the meantime, unsustainable water use and wastage contribute to the depletion of the resources at a time when water needs driven by economic and demographic growth are ever-increasing (MedECC, 2019).
Closely related are the issues of food security – understood as people having ‘at all times (…) physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life’ (WFS, 1996) regardless of the food’s origin and the conditions under which it is produced and distributed – and food sovereignty. The latter requires that production be sustainable, just and, most importantly, local, guaranteeing universal access to available products. Food sovereignty (Gordillo, 2013) enhances community control of resources and workers, and supports climate and resource-friendly techniques, local distribution channels, and the social protection of small and medium producers, and is particularly crucial given the already mentioned rapid population growth.
Agroecology, ‘an integrated approach that simultaneously applies ecological and social concepts and principles to the design and management of food and agricultural systems’ (FAO, 2019c) might contribute to the mitigation of some of the above-mentioned problems related to food sovereignty. Essentially, by optimising the interactions between people, animals and plants, it enables the advancement of sustainable agriculture as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, for example due to its requirement to use natural methods
This report was prepared for the European Committee of the Regions and written by Karolina Zubel (CASE) and Antoine Apprioual (IEMed).