release n° 03/2017

JULY - SEPTEMBER

an initiative by

ANALYSIS / Text analysis of the themes in focus

CLIMATE CHANGE, GLOBAL WARMING, FOOD SECURITY, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS: THE HOT TOPICS OF THE THIRD QUARTER OF 2017

In the third quarter of 2017 – as already mentioned in the Home Page – Climate Change was the dominant topic in all the monitored areas of MEDIA, LEGISLATION, INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES & NGOs, and RESEARCH, with the subject of Global Warming featuring prominently among them. The topic of Food Security also received significant attention, particularly in recent weeks, following the publication on September 15 of the 2017 edition of the United Nation’s annual report on “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World”. This was followed by the topics of Biodiversity, Food Safety, especially in the area of LEGISLATION, and Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in the websites of INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES & NGOs.

Media

In the third quarter of 2017, the topic of “Climate Change” accounted for 75% of the total mentions on media websites, with 14,921 out of 20,153. This was followed, a considerable way behind, by “Food Safety” (784, 3.9% of the total), “Biodiversity” (717, 3.6%), “Food Security” (706, 3.5%), and “Carbon Footprint” (545, 2.70%).
Climate Change - The cloud with words linked to “Climate Change” was dominated by “China” and “United States”, a sign of the enduring competition between these two leading countries triggered by the announcement of the current US Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement on climate change, announced by President Donald Trump on June 1, and the actions subsequently carried out by China in order to implement the pledges made under the Agreement - see, for example, the deal signed a few days later by the Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Governor of California Jerry Brown to work in partnership towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. During the second part of the quarter, the focus gradually shifted towards “Harvey”, “Extreme Weather” and “Al Gore”. This was a consequence of the extreme weather events that occurred in North and Central America, South Asia, and Africa, while the focus on the former U.S. Vice-President followed the presentation of his new documentary “An inconvenient sequel, truth to the power” (see the Home Page for more details).
Food Safety - The most frequently mentioned terms in connection with this topic during the July-September quarter were “European Food Safety” (EFSA). This Agency was set up by the EU in 2002, following a series of food crises in the late Nineties, as a source of independent scientific advice and communication on the risks associated with the food supply chain, within the framework of a European food safety system in which responsibility for risk assessment and for risk management are kept separate. Its strong presence in the media was mainly related to the meeting of the 45 EU Agencies participating in the European Network of Agencies (EUAN) which took place on July 7, 2017 in Parma, in the headquarters of EFSA, the current holder of the chairmanship of EUAN which runs until 2018. The goal of the meeting was to review the progress made in the implementation of the Work Programme set out by EUAN on matters of crucial interest for the future of EU citizens, ranging from health to the environment, from migration to security, and from business to innovation.
Biodiversity - The terms appears mainly in association with “President”, “Marine Biodiversity” and “Biodiversity Loss”. “President” refers to both U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (see earlier comments on “Climate Change”). Threats to both land and marine biodiversity are mentioned as consequences of the climate changes currently underway.
Below are the top 10 online media outlets that addressed these topics.

Legislation

“Climate Change” was also the most frequently mentioned topic in the websites of Government and Legislative bodies, with 402 mentions, accounting for 32.7% of total mentions. It was followed by “Food Security” (227, equal to 18.5% of the total), “Biodiversity” (172, 14% of the total) and “Common Agricultural Policy” (159, 12.9% of the total).
Climate Change - The most frequently mentioned topic was once again the “Paris Agreement on Climate Change”, followed by “Governments” and the “United Nations”.
From August on, following the extreme weather events that struck various regions of the world, the focus shifted to “Air Pollution” and “Climate Change”, which were seen as the factors that triggered these events.
Food Security - The topic appeared in connection with the following issues:
As can be seen, EU agencies and bodies such as EFSA and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) - the European Parliament’s committee dealing with these issues, currently chaired by the Italian MEP Giovanni La Via - featured prominently. Regarding EFSA, in addition to what was pointed out earlier, see also the following statement delivered by the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani, when he visited the EFSA headquarters - the first president to do so in the history of the EU - on September 27: “In the coming months and years, the European Parliament and the citizens we represent will continue to rely on the scientific expertise of EFSA to protect our health and to help us deliver growth and prosperity in the European Union.” With respect to ENVI - the EU’s most important legislative committee whose wide-ranging areas of action include the management of resources and waste, air and water quality, and the protection of biodiversity -, it should be pointed out that the fight against climate change is at the center of its ongoing engagement and activities.
Biodiversity - The cloud of words connected to this topic signals, on the one hand, the importance attributed to activities for the protection and promotion of biodiversity and, on the other, the tools (Culture Statistics, Information) and goals (Protection, Health) required for its preservation. Below are the 10 websites of government and legislative bodies in which the topics described above were most frequently mentioned. The first two - europarl.europa.eu and ec.europa.eu, the European Parliament’s and the European Commission’s websites respectively - account for 60% of total mentions.


International AGENCIES & NGOs

The topics most frequently addressed in the websites of International Agencies and NGOs during the July-September 2017 period were once again “Climate Change” (827 mentions, accounting for 35.7% of the total), “Food Security” (433, 18.7% of the total) and “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDG, 231, 10% of the total). The most frequent mentions were found during the first part of the period, before the summer break.
Climate Change - The Paris Agreement on climate change continued to take center stage, for the reasons already explained earlier on.
Food Security - The presence of this topic is due to the publication of a series of important documents produced by leading International Agencies such as FAO, the United Nations, IFPRI and the World Bank. Discussion of the 2017 edition of “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World” featured prominently. The report shows that in 2016, after falling steadily for over a decade, world hunger was on the increase once again and affected 815 million people (38 million more than in 2015), amounting to 11 percent of the world’s population. The report is the first global assessment of food security and nutrition published by the United Nations after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that makes the ending of hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 an international policy priority. The report identifies conflicts - increasingly exacerbated by climate change - as one of the key drivers of the re-emergence of hunger and many forms of malnutrition. Still on the topic of Food Security, there are numerous mentions of the serious food crisis that continues to affect many African and Asian countries (see Focus On in No. 2 of the Report), which goes hand in hand with the crisis caused by water scarcity and consequent drought (see Focus On for this Release).
Sustainable Development Goals - he topics mentioned bring into focus once again the role of FAO in pursuing the SDGs adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit held on September 25, 2015, in Milan as part of Expo2015. The SDGs, which came into force on January 1, 2016, call for action by all nations to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and achieve economic growth consistently with environmental protection and the preservation of the earth’s natural resources.
Below are the 10 websites of International Agencies and NGOs that most frequently addressed the topics we have just described.

Research

In the summer of 2017, the topic of “Climate Change” also featured prominently in the websites of research organizations, with 1,230 mentions, accounting for 54.2% of the total. This was followed, a considerable way behind, by “Food Security” with 373 mentions (16.4%). “SDG” was even further behind with 92 mentions (3.8%).


Climate Change - An interesting aspect is the strong cause and effect relationship found between climate change and topics such as “Agriculture” and “Food Security”. Obviously, there were many references to universities and research programs.
Food Security - In addition to the numerous, and predictable, mentions of “Agriculture and Food Security”, considerable prominence was given to the “CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)”. The CGIAR is a global research partnership created with the aim of reducing poverty, increasing food security, improving people’s health and nutrition, and promoting a more sustainable use of natural resources. The research is divided into 16 global research programs, each focusing on a particular research topic.
SDG - The words most frequently associated with “SDG” refer to both the topics addressed by the research (Climate Change, Food Security and Nutrition), and the goals that the research aims to achieve (Knowledge, Information, and so on).
Finally, the science websites that most frequently mentioned the topics described above are:
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