University of Galway academic takes on editor role for landmark UN report on Africa

Sep 14 2022 Posted: 12:45 IST

Report examines State of Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture in the Near East and North Africa

A University of Galway academic has played a key role in a landmark United Nations report which warns that food systems in parts of Africa are at breaking point.

Dr Una Murray, from the Discipline of Geography and a Principal Investigator in the University’s Ryan Institute was writer and editor for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’s 1st edition of the State of Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture of the Near East and North African countries.

This report has just been published with the warning that food and agriculture systems in the region are at a breaking point, with human pressures on the systems of land, soils and fresh water intensifying and the impacts of climate change worsening.

It is available

The report provides a major contribution to a range of the Sustainable Development Goal targets, in particular the targets relating to SDG1 (No Poverty), SDG2 (Zero Hunger), SDG6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) and SDG15 (Life on Land).

The UN Food and Agriculture Report provides information and analyses on trends and challenges facing two of the most important agricultural production factors: land and water. Land and water are central to agriculture and rural development, and are deeply linked to the region’s challenges of food insecurity and poverty, rapid urbanization trends and climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as the degradation and depletion of natural resources.

All of these challenges affect the livelihoods of almost 420 million people in the region.

Over the past 70 years, the population of Near East and North African countries has grown sixfold, compared with a threefold increase worldwide. Current projections indicate that the population will reach more than 633 million by 2050, with almost three-quarters living in the region’s cities. This translates into increased demand for food, with urban populations demanding diversified diets.

Near East and North Africa is one of the world’s regions predicted to be most affected by climate change, which is already altering crop productivity and growth cycles. An increase in mean temperatures, floods and droughts affects smallholders the most, as well as poorer populations with low capacities to adapt and populations experiencing conflict. Land and water resources are under severe stress in the region. To address these challenges, future agricultural production will need to be transformative, focused on climate-resilient farming systems and crops that most efficiently use water resources.

Key messages for policymakers, policy implementers and stakeholders are contained in the report, which covers Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen, as well as West Bank and Gaza.


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