Climate crisis in focus as Giorgio Parisi joins FAO’s Nobel Laureates Alliance

The climate crisis is posing a growing threat to our food security. Today, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) welcomed Physics Nobel Laureate Giorgio Parisi to join its Nobel Laureates Alliance for Food Security and Peace, an advocacy group that aims to amplify FAO’s work in tackling global hunger.

Parisi is an expert on complex systems that are difficult to model, such as flocking starlings, the stock market and the weather. A native of Rome, Italy, Parisi was awarded the Nobel prize in 2021 for “the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales.” He shared the prize with Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann, two leading meteorologists.

Global hunger has been on the rise since 2014, mainly due to economic downturns, armed conflicts and other humanitarian crisis, as well as the climate crisis. The latter is playing an increasingly crucial role in undermining livelihoods and will be a major driving force for future food insecurity.

“Professor Parisi’s work contributes significantly to our understanding of the climate crisis, and in alerting us to the consequences of human behaviour and the inefficient use of natural resources,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said at a virtual ceremony in Rome.

Parisi delivered a lecture entitled “Science: the headlight on our future,” in which he argued that while science may have the tools to address many of the world’s problems, what is needed is greater political will and guidance, especially on the part of the richer countries.

“It’s like driving in the night: Science is the headlights, but the responsibility not to go off the road lies with the driver,” Parisi said.

The ceremony also saw interventions from Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, who congratulated Parisi for his Nobel award and highlighted the link between the climate crisis and food security, and 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus, a co-founder of the Alliance, who called on participants not to let the COVID-19 pandemic distract from the threat posed by climate change.

Nobel Alliance

FAO established its Nobel Laureates Alliance for Food Security and Peace in 2016 to raise awareness and champion global and country-level activities, promoting the links between food security and peace.

One example of its concrete achievements comes from the Central African Republic where, together with the Italian government and two founding members of the Alliance – Yunus and 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate Tawakkol Karman – FAO is working on a reconciliation and development programme that helps to increase local food production while simultaneously promoting dialogue between the parties involved in the ongoing conflict.

The Alliance aims to build on lessons learned in the Central African Republic in other countries facing food security and nutrition challenges resulting from armed conflict or post-conflict situations.

To build and sustain peace, the Alliance advocates the importance of increasing investment in food security, agriculture, livelihoods, and resilience-building while ensuring conditions for participation and dialogue.

FAO considers the climate crisis a top-line corporate priority and is actively working to enhance the institutional and technical capacities of its Members and improve the integration of food security, agriculture, forestry and fisheries within the international climate agenda.

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