Global Director & Head, Strategic Marketing Healthcare and Lifesciences, Tata Consultancy Services
This article is part of: Centre for Nature and Climate
Since 2022, the number of people affected by global food insecurity rose from 135 million in 53 countries in 2019 to 345 million in 82 countries in 2022.
Rising temperatures are negatively impacting food supplies through extreme weather events, natural disasters, economic and social disruption.
Food supply systems need to consider climate change at an individual and community level.
Climate change has a direct and significant impact on food insecurity. As global temperatures rise, food production becomes more difficult and uncertain due to changes in weather patterns, extreme weather events, and other environmental disruptions.
These challenges have wide-reaching implications for food supplies around the world, as food production is impacted by rising temperatures, increased drought frequency, decreases in soil fertility, and crop destruction from floods or storms.
The effects of climate change on food security are particularly apparent in developing countries and can be seen in both the health of their citizens as well as the livelihoods of small farmers. When food availability is degraded due to changing climate conditions such as drought or flooding, there is a risk of malnutrition among vulnerable populations who struggle to access nutritious foods.
Moreover, food insecurity has a significant financial impact on small farmers in these regions, as they are unable to generate enough income to meet their basic needs and/or pay for food-related inputs such as fertilizers or seed.
Global food insecurity on the rise
According to the World Bank, the number of people suffering acute food insecurity increased from 135 million in 2019 to 345 million in 82 countries by June 2022, as the war in Ukraine, supply chain disruptions, and the continued economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed food prices to all-time highs.
According to the World Bank, the number of people suffering acute food insecurity increased from 135 million in 2019 to 345 million in 82 countries by June 2022. Image: ResearchGate
In order to mitigate the effects of climate change on food security, it is essential that governments and organizations take proactive steps to develop strategies for food production and access that can better withstand extreme weather events and climate variability.
These efforts should include investment in agricultural infrastructure, diversification of crops and food sources, food storage systems designed for long-term preservation, and training for local farmers on sustainable agriculture techniques. By taking actions today to address the impacts of climate change on food insecurity, we can ensure a future where food availability is not threatened by a changing climate.
10 ways to prevent food insecurity
1. Invest in food storage systems that can withstand extreme weather events.
2. Diversify food sources and agricultural production techniques to reduce risk.
3. Adopt water management systems that reduce crop damage from floods or droughts.
4. Implement sustainable farming practices such as no-till agriculture, agroforestry, and cover crops.
5. Support smallholder farmers with access to credit and other services to ground economic empowerment.
6. Increase public awareness of food security challenges caused by climate change.
7. Increase organic carbon in soil to increase water retention in soil, increasing resilience to drought.
8. Promote education on food preservation techniques such as refrigeration, dehydration, etc.
9. Develop early warning systems for extreme weather events to enable food production adaptation by leveraging technologies that embrace data analytics and insights, predictive AI.
10. Invest in research and development for climate-resilient food crops.
Climate action to protect food systems
By taking these steps, we can ensure that food security is not compromised by climate change in the future. It is essential that governments and organizations take action now to prevent food insecurity caused by climate change before it becomes an even larger problem.
Beyond governmental actions, at an individual level, we must become conscious consumers to understand better the impact our purchases have, directly or indirectly, on our society. Our efforts accumulate to social good serving our people and planet better.
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.