Weather and climate extremes have significant impacts on agricultural production in the major breadbaskets of the world. Crop failures lead to increased food prices, with significant implications for national economies. The increasing frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts, heat waves etc., pose potentially disastrous consequences for agriculture and food security, especially in the rainfed areas of developing countries.
The agriculture sector must produce more food for a growing world population, which is expected to increase from 7 billion to about 9 billion by 2050. Comprehensive planning to reduce the economic and ecological impacts of extreme events as well as adoption of technologies for improved land and water management to enhance water efficiency in agriculture are needed. Potential approaches to success include knowledge sharing and cultivation of critical thinking, the promotion of effective tools and technologies, and proper understanding of user priorities and needs.
It is with this background that the George Mason University (GMU), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in collaboration with eleven co-sponsors, organized the International Symposium on Weather and Climate Extremes, Food Security and Biodiversity at the George Mason University in USA from 20-24 October 2014.
Experts from UN Agencies, governments, universities and research organizations and from private sector agencies in USA and 15 countries around the world participated in the Symposium. The issues of weather and climate extremes, food security and biodiversity as well as impacts in different regions around the world were discussed in three plenary sessions, 17 concurrent sessions and four breakout group sessions spread over four days.