Climate Change and Food Security
According to FAO data more than one in ten people in the world are undernourished*. In the future, many more people could face greater risk of hunger. Just how many will depend, in part, on the severity of climate change and our responses to it.
Over the next decades, global demand for food will increase due to changing dietary preferences and a growing population. The agricultural sector needs to meet this growing demand in the context of changing climatic conditions (such as higher temperatures, shifting seasons, more frequent and extreme weather events, flood and drought) that can negatively affect food production. For example, in 2010 extreme drought and wild fires affected grain producing areas of Russia, and serious floods affected Pakistan, leading to large-scale agricultural losses. These dramatic incidents could be an indication of worrying trends ahead.
Two important means of enhancing food security are:
- Improving access to food. This can be achieved through measures such as humanitarian assistance, disaster risk reduction, social protection initiatives, more equitable food distribution, and reduction of post-harvest food wastage.
- Increasing the production of food. This typically involves innovation and diffusion of agricultural technologies and management practices that can improve yields.
‘Food sovereignty’ has emerged as an important concept linked to that of food security. Food sovereignty emphasises the political aspects of control of the food production system and pays attention to land ownership, trade rules, and the roles of agri-business and other powerful actors. The language of food sovereignty focuses attention on the political contestation of ‘climate smart agriculture’, as well as the vested interests that may be involved in it, rather than assuming that climate smart agriculture is a ‘triple win’ that everyone will agree to. The concept is popular with social movements.
* According to the most recent data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation, 13% of the global population were undernourished between 2006-2008.
Image credit: Neil Palmer / CIAT - International Center for Tropical Agriculture
- Achieving food security in the face of climate change: final report from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change
- J. Beddington (ed); M. Asaduzzaman (ed); M. Clark (ed) / Climate Change Agriculture Food Security, 2012
- This report, released by the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, identifies a set of clear actions to be undertaken by key stakeholders to achieve food security in the context of climate change. It reasons that w...
- Climate change and hunger: responding to the challenge
- M. Parry; A. Evans; M. W. Rosegrant / International Food Policy Research Institute, 2009
- This report reviews current knowledge of the effects of climate change on hunger and provides an overview of actions that can be taken to address the challenge. The report argues that unless climate change is mitigated by...
- The future of food and farming: challenges and choices for global sustainability
- Foresight UK, 2011
- The global food system will experience an unprecedented combination of pressures over the next 40 years. Global population size will increase and competition for land, water and energy will intensify, while the effects of climate chan...
- Climate change, water and food security
- E. Ludi (ed) / Overseas Development Institute [ES], 2009
- Agriculture constitutes the backbone of most African economies. Climate change is, however, posing the greatest threat to agriculture and food security in the 21st century, particularly in many of the poor, agriculture-based countries...