Climate change is a ticking time bomb for global food security, Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, has said.

Global warming, he said, disproportionately impacts some of the poorest countries, especially the most vulnerable in these nations, with small-scale farmers and indigenous peoples dependent on land for their livelihoods.

The expert called on states to “exploit the untapped potential of sustainable agriculture in order to combat hunger and climate change at the same time.”

He also reiterated a call issued by a group of UN human rights experts, including himself, issued at the start of the historic Copenhagen conference that “a weak outcome of the climate change negotiations threatens to infringe upon human rights.”

Policies, Mr. De Schutter said, must be based on a rights framework and take the right to adequate food into account so that the needs of the most vulnerable will be prioritized and that poverty and inequality will not be exacerbated.

“This is not a theoretical debate,” he stressed, adding that there have been real cases of the violation of the right to food linked to climate policies.

The high-level segment of the Copenhagen conference will continue today, and secretary-general Ban Ki-moon recently exhorted nations to “seal the deal” on an ambitious new agreement, warning that the well-being of all of the world’s people is at stake.

The two-week summit under way in the Danish capital is “as momentous as the negotiations that created our great United Nations… from the ashes of war more than 60 years ago,” Mr. Ban said at the opening of the high-level meeting. “Once again, we are on the cusp of history.”

Mr. Ban underscored that nations cannot be allowed to fail in the home stretch, urging countries to put aside their “maximalist” negotiating positions and “unreasonable” demands.

“We do not have another year to negotiate,” he said. “Nature does not negotiate.”

Any deal, the secretary-general emphasized, must incorporate five key elements: more ambitious mid-term emissions reductions targets from industrialized countries; stepped-up efforts by developing nations to curb emissions growth; an adaptation framework; financing and technology support; and transparent and equitable governance.

He also underlined the need for countries to hammer out how to provide medium- and long-term financing to bolster climate resilience, limit deforestation and further low-emissions growth.