In April 2020, Ipsos MORI, a market research company in the United Kingdom released a survey on how the public in selected countries view the two major crisis, COVID-19 and climate change. Compared with other countries in the world, Japan regarded climate change as a serious crisis equivalent to COVID-19 and as a policy priority, and perceived that economic recovery by COVID-19 should not have a negative impact on the environment. In turn, Japan seems less interested in making climate change as political agendas.
49. Nature Climate Change Paper: Temporary reduction in daily global CO2 emissions during the COVID-19 forced confinement
A scientific paper entitled “Temporary reduction in daily global CO2 emissions during the COVID-19 forced confinement” was published in Nature Climate Change on May 19, 2020. The authors compiled government policies and activity data to estimate the decrease in CO2 emissions during forced confinements due to COVID-19. It was estimated that daily global CO2 emissions decreased by -17% by April 2020 compared to the 2019 levels, about half of which was attributed to changes in surface transport. It was concluded that post-crisis government actions and economic incentives would shape the direction of global carbon emissions over the coming decades.
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside downaffecting every aspect of people's way of life including how they live, how they work and communicate, and how they move. Decisions made over the next few months could affect generations, and governments need to make informed decisions. The the Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities (CCSA), consisting of 36 UN agencies and international organizations, released a report entitled “How COVID-19 is changing the world: a statistical perspective”, highlighting COVID-19's economic and social impacts and regional trends that were not anticipated only a few months ago.
The International Day for Biological Diversity is designated by the United Nations to promote awareness and the issues related to the loss of biodiversity. It is currently observed on May 22 every year. For 2020, the theme is “our solutions are in nature”. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the international community faces the opportunity to reassess its relationship with the natural world. The year 2020 is also the final year of the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan on Biodiversity and the 2011-2020 United Nations Decade on Biodiversity.
Since the fisheries industry relies heavily on international trade, regulations and restrictions on movement and distribution taken as a countermeasure against the pandemic of the new coronavirus infectious disease (COVID-19) have caused a sharp chill in the seafood market. The seafood value chain is at risk due to declining consumer demand. Due to lack of supplies, it is still difficult to secure an appropriate working environment to prevent COVID-19 infection. Under such circumstances, the movement of the fisheries industry is beginning to take place in anticipation of the post-pandemic, including the construction of a new direct sales system.
The World Economic Forum publishes a Global Risk Report each year that reflects the views of global leaders and policy makers. In the 2020 report published earlier this year, all of the top five perceived risks were related to environmental issues and climate change for the first time since the report's investigation began in 2007. On May 19, 2020, the team behind the annual Global Risks Report summarized the risks, challenges and opportunities of the pandemic, to guide better decision making and discussions. As a result of a survey of the views of about 350 senior risk professionals, four important issues have emerged, namely, economic shift, recession for sustainability, social unrest, and technology dependence.
On May 18, 2020, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published the report “Addressing the impacts of COVID-19 in food crises April–December 2020”, urging the need for emergency assistance by the international community, and emphasizing that prevention of the food crisis could not wait for the resolution of the health crisis, and instead, precautionary measures to protect lives and improve access to food would be necessary.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is currently out of control, a report released by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 2016 mentioned zoonotic diseases or zoonoses as one of the emerging environmental challenges.The emergence of zoonotic diseases is associated with human-induced environmental changes and disturbances of the ecosystem, and they opportunistically affect the host under environmental, social, and economic stress. About 75% of all emerging infectious diseases and 60% of human infectious diseases are zoonotic. Among these diseases, Ebola, bird flu, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), Rift Valley fever, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), West Nile virus, Zika virus, etc. have brought huge economic cost. Countermeasures against zoonotic diseases require the healthy ecosystems that maintain diverse species, and strengthen the framework for policy coordination across the three sectors of environment, agriculture and health.
The spread of COVID-19 is creating a shortage of imported fruits in Japan. Normally, 40% of international cargo including fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables and high value-added agricultural products are transported in an efficient global supply chain utilizing the airline networks spread all over the world. Logistics experts say that the increase in freight costs accompanying the reduction in passenger flights makes international transportation of fruits and vegetables expensive, and producers in emerging countries could be hit when the global rationalization of choice occurs in the "new normal" in the post-COVID-19 era.
40. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) ー COVID-19 Response Targeting African Agriculture and the Rural Poor
The COVID-19 pandemic is a major blow to African agriculture and farmers. On May 14, 2020, special envoys of the International Agricultural Development Fund (IFAD), Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria and Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, published a blog entitled “COVID-19 response must target African agriculture and the rural poor".
The 2020 Global Nutrition Report was released on May 12, 2020 during the time COVID-19 continues to spread around the world. The subtitle of this year's report highlights the impact of inequity in ending all forms of malnutrition, noting that currently, 1 in 9 people are undernourished and 1 in 3 people are overweight. The report was written before the COVID-19 crisis but the pandemic was also mentioned in the foreword in the context that good nutrition is a very important element of defense against COVID-19, thereby calling on governments, businesses and civil society to step up efforts to address all forms of malnutrition.
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a global economic downturn. While the grain market has sufficient inventories worldwideenough to avoid a critical price hike at this stage, stilltill the international community needs to closely monitor policy changes by food exporters. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has published the Food Price Monitoring and Analysis (FPMA Bulletin Monthly Report) on the latest price trends at the global, regional, and national levels, providing a detailed information on the circumstances in countries where price increases are observed. According to the May 2020 preliminary report, wheat and rice prices have risen and maize prices have fallen in April 2020 compared to the previous month.
37.Contributing to food security in Madagascar by developing rice cultivation technology that improves fertilizer use efficiency
Madagascar is known for its rich ecosystem and rare flora and fauna, but it is less known that agriculture in this country is based on rice cultivation and rice consumption is more than twice as much rice as Japan. Meanwhile, rice productivity remains stagnant and has hindered poverty reduction in rural areas, making Madagascar one of the poorest countries in the world. Factors that impede rice productivity include the lack of money for fertilizer purchases due to poor farmers, and the poor nutrient environment resulting from weathered soil peculiar to Africa. Therefore, JIRCAS is conducting projects with local research institutes with the aim of developing technology that can improve rice productivity in a stable manner even under conditions where the nutrient supply from fertilizer and soil is small. As a recent research highlight, we developed a localized fertilizer management technique, phosphorus dipping that can efficiently increase rice yields under the typical rice-growing environment of the country.
36. New Coronavirus Pandemic ー EAC Border Supply Chain Monitoring and Support for Promotion of Regional Agriculture
The East African Community (EAC) is an intergovernmental organization composed of the East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. Among these EAC countries, only Kenya and Tanzania have coastlines, whereas Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan are landlocked countries, and cross-border logistics of lifeline including food, fuel, and medical products are part of the national economy. On 12 May 2020, four leaders of six EAC countries, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and South Sudan, issued a joint statement to ensure that there is no interruption in cross-border logistics during the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. In view of the current pandemic and post-COVID-19, the leaders also announced that they would support agricultural processing and value-adding by ensuring that farmers' agricultural activities continue uninterrupted.
35. Nature Food Paper: “Distance” between Food Supply and Demand Local Food System vs. International Trade
Although farms are, by their nature, local, much of the rest of the food industry is global. Today people around the world rely more or less on imported food. COVID-19 crisis provides an opportunity to discuss the localization of food systems in an effort to bring food supply and demand closer together. A paper published in Nature Food in April 2020 estimated potential minimum distances between food production and consumption for six crop groups and also examined scenarios of yield improvement and food loss reduction. According to the analysis, less than one-third of the world's population can meet the demand within a radius of 100 km, and for many people the supply-demand distance exceeds 1,000 km, and the food supply must depend on trade. Increasing yields and reducing food loss will favor more local food systems in Africa and Asia, but a global supply chain is still necessary for a stable food supply. The authors hope that this study will not provide policy recommendations, but rather provide an overall picture on which to base discussions about local food systems versus international trade.
The world is facing three nutritional challenges, namely, hunger and undernourishment, obesity and overnutrition, and micronutrient deficiency. More than 2 billion people or 26% of the world's population are suffering from micronutrient deficiency, also called "hidden hunger" as it significantly affects the efficiency of intake and metabolism of important nutrients and immunity response. As of May 2020, while the international community is focused on containment of COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of nutrition is highlighted from the perspective of strengthening the resilience to infectious diseases. HarvestPlus focuses on improving the nutritional value of staple foods through the breeding, development and dissemination of biofortified crops rich in micronutrients such as zinc, iron and vitamin A for the vulnerable people in developing countries.
As the need for large-scale economic measures against the global economic crisis associated with COVID-19 is being discussed, the calls for "green recoveries" are also gathering momentum. Top U.S. and British economists, including a Nobel laureate and a prominent climate expert, examined economic stimulus policies and surveyed 231 experts from 53 countries. As a result, five policies with high potential on both economic multiplier and climate impact metrics were identified, namely, clean physical infrastructure, building efficiency retrofits, investment in education and training, natural capital investment, and clean R&D. In low- and middle-income countries, it was suggested that rural support spending associated with sustainable agriculture, ecosystem regeneration, or accelerating clean energy installations was more important than the policy on clean R&D.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has published an interactive report that contains the main findings of the Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA). The FRA provides a comprehensive report on the status and trends in world’s forests, land tenure and access rights, sustainable forest management, legal and institutional frameworks for forest conservation, and sustainable use of forest resources. Currently, the total forest area is 4.06 billion hectares, which accounts for about one-third of the world's land, and although the forest area has been declining globally since 1990, the rate of decline is currently slowing down.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has published a report, "Comparing Crises: Great Lockdown vs. Great Recession”. The Great Recession of the late 2000s and early 2010s has been described as the worst recession since the Second World War. The economic crisis of the Great Lockdown associated with COVID-19 is expected to exceed the shock of the Great Recession, as it is certain to affect not only high-income countries but also low-income countries. According to the report, the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) will suffer the most from the crisis due to their dependence on food imports, tourism revenues and remittances.