irish confIrish President Michael D Higgins claims global hunger represents the grossest of human rights violations and the greatest ethical challenge facing the global economy.

Opening a conference in Dublin on tackling global hunger and climate change, President Higgins said the hungry and poor of the world are "twice smitten" when political interests get in the way of elimination or relief of hunger and nutrition

"The source of this hunger is not a lack of food, but the moral affront of poverty, created and sustained by gross inequalities across the world," he said.

Before the conference launched, former president Mary Robinson urged people in power to listen to the experiences of vulnerable communities around the world. The rights campaigner said poor people can show first hand the links between the two.

Delegates examined how farmers' traditional skills and science can be combined to fight hunger, improve nutrition and adapt to more unpredictable weather.

"The links between hunger, undernutrition and climate change are clear to see once we listen to the experiences of the poorest and most vulnerable people, who battle through unpredictable weather patterns in their struggle to feed their families. With crops destroyed, food prices surge, pushing millions into poverty and hunger," Mrs Robinson said.

"Often, when people are in positions of power and influence, the most important thing they can do is listen to those they seek to help. This conference gives voice to those most in need, and provides an essential opportunity for policy makers and leaders to listen, learn, and as a result, lead.

The APPG on Agriculture and Food for Development was represented by the group's Chairman - Lord Cameron of Dillington. Lord Cameron, when addressing the conference stated: "to address hunger and nutrition concerns, we must begin with investment in smallholder agriculture".