Remarks by EPA Administrator Michael Regan at a UN Security Council Ministerial Meeting on Climate, Food Security, and Conflict

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February 13, 2023

Thank you, Mr. President. It’s an honor to be with you all today.

President Ali, thank you for hosting us today, and thank you for your exemplary leadership in tackling climate and food insecurity through the Caribbean Community and Common Market.

For years, climate change has been the topic of conversation on the world stage, and its impact is far-reaching as we can see with our very own eyes.

From increased crop failures to water insecurity, to increasingly extreme weather events, the impacts of climate change exacerbate food insecurity for many and worsen stability for all. No one is exempt.

Those of us around this table, and in this room, represent every corner of the globe. I’m sure you all are aware that last year, the Horn of Africa experienced its worst drought in recorded history.

The World Food Program estimated that more than 23 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia face severe hunger.

We know that floods in Somalia have driven close to half a million people from their homes, and approximately 4.3 million people are facing crisis or worse levels of hunger, exacerbating the security challenges Somalia faces.

These are only a few examples of how climate change can impact lives globally, and no country is immune from these effects, not even the United States.

In 2022, very low food security households in the United States increased, and roughly 36% of U.S. households with incomes below the federal poverty line were food insecure.

This is simply unacceptable.

Since day one as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I’ve committed tens of millions of dollars to ensuring that all people — regardless of the color of their skin, the community they live in, or the money in their pocket — have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and the opportunity to lead a healthy life.

The impacts of climate change and food insecurity oftentimes disproportionately affect those most vulnerable among us, and in response, we have three interlinked priorities for transforming the food system.

Thanks to President Biden’s leadership, the United States is supporting food security and nutrition for all, tackling climate change mitigation and adaptation, and creating inclusive and equitable food systems that address the needs of the most vulnerable communities.

Back in December, at the UNFCCC COP-28 in the United Arab Emirates, I was proud to launch the National Strategy for Reducing Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics.

Food loss and waste represent 8% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. When food is wasted, so is the opportunity to nourish people.

When food is wasted, so are the resources that were used to produce, process, distribute, and prepare that food.

Reducing food loss and waste is critically important for our climate and will help provide social and economic benefits, leading to an increase in stability and security across the globe.

The United States is also working with the UN Environment Program to help identify sources of food waste in rapidly urbanizing areas of developing countries.

At the same time, it is essential that we ensure the most vulnerable have access to food.

That is why the United States is honored to fund more than one-third of the World Food Program budget.

Food insecurity is present in the United States. It is present in Guyana. It is present in rural areas and in cities. And the impacts of climate change on reducing food security can be seen both on land and at sea.

With rising temperatures and ocean acidification, critical “blue economy” food sources are at risk and so are the people that rely on them.

As global leaders, we have a responsibility to foster conditions for increased peace and security in the world.

Our work both inside and outside of this room is preventing and reducing food insecurity, while addressing climate change and its impacts.

We must continue to work together to achieve our goals, and we must remain relentless in our pursuit.

Mr. President, thank you.

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