During the last two decades, 200 million have been lifted out of hunger and the prevalence of chronic malnutrition in children has decreased from 40 to 26 percent.

In spite of this progress, according to the World Bank, 702 million people still live in extreme poverty and, according to this year's report on the State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI), 793 million people are undernourished.

Among the most significant impacts of climate change is the potential increase of food insecurity and malnutrition. But, how exactly?

Increasing The Risk Of Hunger

Climate change exarcebates the risks of hunger and undernutrition through:

  • Extreme weather events
    Climate change increases the frequency and intensity of some disasters such as droughts, floods and storms. This has an adverse impact on livelihoods and food security. Climate-related disasters have the potential to destroy crops, critical infrastructure, and key community assets, therefore deteriorating livelihoods and exacerbating poverty.
  • Long-term and gradual climate risks
    Sea-level will rise as a result of climate change, affecting livelihoods in coastal areas and river deltas. Accelerated glacial melt will also affect the quantity and reliability of water available and change patterns of flooding and drought. 

Food Security And Nutrition

Climate change affects all dimensions of food security and nutrition:

  • Food availability: Changes in climatic conditions have already affected the production of some staple crops, and future climate change threatens to exacerbate this. Higher temperatures will have an impact on yields while changes in rainfall could affect both crop quality and quantity.
  • Food access: Climate change could increase the prices of major crops in some regions. For the most vulnerable people, lower agricultural output means lower incomes. Under these conditions, the poorest people — who already use most of their income on food — sacrifice additional income and other assets to meet their nutritional requirements, or resort to poor coping strategies.
  • Food utilization: Climate-related risks affect calorie intake, particularly in areas where chronic food insecurity is already a significant problem. Changing climatic conditions could also create a vicious cycle of disease and hunger. Nutrition is likely to be affected by climate change through related impacts on food security, dietary diversity, care practices and health.
  • Food stability: The climatic variability produced by more frequent and intense weather events can upset the stability of individuals’ and government food security strategies, creating fluctuations in food availability, access and utilization.

Food Insecurity and Climate Change Vulnerability map

The Food Insecurity and Climate Change Vulnerability map, produced by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Met Office Hadley Centre, illustrates how strong adaptation and mitigation efforts will prevent the worst impacts of climate change on hunger globally and help make people less vulnerable to food insecurity.
Click on the image below to access the map.