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Indian expert on new climate change panel

March 11, 2011 16:02 IST

Rita SharmaRita Sharma, Secretary of India's National Advisory Council, has been appointed to a new commission on climate change to be chaired by Britain's chief scientific adviser Sir John Beddington.

The new Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, has been set up by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research's Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security program.

Sharma is among 13 members of the commission which, in the next 10 months, will seek to build global consensus on a clear set of policy actions aimed at influencing negotiations to help global agriculture adapt to climate change, achieve food security, and reduce poverty and greenhouse gas emissions, CGIAR said.

The Commission brings together senior natural and social scientists working in agriculture, climate, food and nutrition, economics, and natural resources from Australia, Brazil, Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, France, Kenya, India, Mexico, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the US and Vietnam.

Sharma has worked at various levels of government in India, including as secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Rural Development; special secretary in the Department of Agricultural Research and Education; and commissioner of land resources and extension in the Ministry of Agriculture.

Speaking after the announcement, Beddington said: "Extreme weather like the droughts in Russia, China and Brazil and the flooding in Pakistan and Australia have contributed to a level of food price volatility we haven't seen since the oil crisis of 40 years ago.

"Unfortunately, this could be just a taste of things to come because in the next few decades the build-up of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere could greatly increase risk of droughts, flooding, pest infestation and water scarcity for agriculture systems already under tremendous stress."

Mohammed Asaduzzaman, Research Director of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies and the Commission's Deputy Chair, said: "I think policymakers are eager for a clear set of recommendations supported by a strong scientific consensus for achieving food security in a world where weather extremes seem to becoming more and more common.

"This Commission is confronting a problem not just of the future but, for places like Bangladesh, a problem of the present. We already are seeing major changes in growing conditions caused by higher temperatures and loss of productive lands to rising sea levels."

The new Commission will synthesise existing research to clearly articulate scientific findings on the potential impact of climate change on food security globally and regionally.

It will then produce a set of specific policy actions for dealing with these challenges, the CGIAR added.

The Commission's findings will be primarily directed to international policy, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Rio+20 Earth Summit, and the Group of 20 industrialised and developing countries.

Image: Rita Sharma

Prasun Sonwalkar in London
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