Today marks World Food Day, but it also sees the much anticipated UN Climate Change conference in Paris, COP21, edge ever closer. The issues of climate change and hunger can no longer be seen in isolation, but are rather heavily intertwined with each other; increasingly extreme and erratic weather is hitting the world's poorest first and hardest, exacerbating the vulnerability that already leaves 795 million people without enough food.
Although myself and thousands of other campaigners know that we must do more to stand with those on the frontlines of climate change, I'm worried whether our leaders will do the same. This isn't just mere cynicism; I only need to take a look back at the failed Copenhagen summit in 2009 to see the consequences of not achieving a global deal. For climate change campaigners, the eleven days of talks that did not deliver our hopes was a bitter blow.
Professor Norman Myers has estimated that as many as 200 million people could be displaced from their homes by 2050 because of climate change. Pictures of families on the move across the Middle East and risking their lives to flee conflict have been beamed into every home in Britain over the past few months. However should global temperatures continue to rise, nations along the Mediterranean such as Italy and Greece could face food shortages as soil becomes more difficult to grow crops. For those of us here in the West, we can no longer just look at climate change as a problem reserved for developing nations; as our climate becomes ever more unpredictable, it will not follow international boundaries.
However it doesn't have to be like that. Paris 2015 takes place in a new global order, with more governments acknowledging the importance of addressing climate change and consumers looking to private enterprise to cooperate in leading the environmental agenda. Moreover there is now a greater understanding that fixing our climate spurs innovation, which tackles inequalities, which can in turn ensure everyone has enough food to eat. But will global leaders at the COP use this knowledge and momentum to seize the opportunity to set serious change in motion?
It's for this that I believe it's more important than ever that we as campaigners continue to shame poverty and hunger, and join our forces and expertise to safeguard our planet to help us combat these social injustices. Change begins with people, not politicians, and it is up to us to raise our voices to push them to take the urgent action necessary to tackle climate change and stand with those hit first and hardest by its devastating effects.
If we are to learn the lessons of previous climate change summits, it's imperative that influencing discussions in Paris does not become the the raison d'etre for environmental campaigners over the next month. When leaders and the media leave the French capital, our cause must continue, whatever the outcome. The summit should be used as a catalyst to spur social action across the world that ensures our cause is not left solely in the hands of politicians. My hope is that the lasting legacy of COP21 will be one that empowers and inspires people; trickling down from international organisations lobbying government officials, to a group of pupils who want to renewable energy in their school.
Climate change has an impact on every single one of our lives and we have both a responsibility and an opportunity to do something amazing and work together as one and demand things are done differently, not for individual gain but for our world.
On Saturday 28th November I will be taking to the streets of Edinburgh for the People's Climate March and I hope thousands of others will join me in cities across the UK. World Food Day is a sobering reminder of the challenge in front of us, but it highlights there is not just one reason to join the campaign against climate change. There are 795 million of them.
This article was originally published on the Oxfam GB website and can be found here.