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Claire Davis and Jessica Fanzo

 

The connections between climate change, the global food system, and nutrition are woefully under-acknowledged. Yet the agriculture-food system is particularly vulnerable to climate change. For many regions, especially in the global South, it will be more and more difficult to produce enough nutritious, safe food for everyone in the future. This relationship is complex: climate change threatens our ability to feed a growing planet, but the food system also contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

A new IFPRI discussion paper titled “Climate Change and Variability: What are the Risks for Nutrition, Diets, and Food Systems?” examines these connections in order to provide an overview of the existing research landscape. The paper uses a food systems approach as it analyzes the bidirectional relationship between food and climate along every step of the food value chain, from a farmer’s seed supply to a consumer having a meal.

The greatest effects of climate change are being felt in the southern hemisphere of the world, where these effects impinge upon livelihoods, mobility, health, education, and food systems. Moving forward, as planetary warming progresses, populations in the global South will continue to face the most significant consequences of a changing climate. They are often the least able to adapt to its effects, especially the rural poor in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The food system is already being affected by climate change. Reductions in yields have already been seen in some crops, such as rice and maize. By 2050, people may be forced to eat fewer fruits, vegetables, and red meat products because their availability declines and prices rise in response to climate change. Access to food may also be limited by climate-related vulnerabilities in transportation, storage, and processing.

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IFPRI: Gender, Climate Change, and Nutrition Integration Initiative (GCAN)

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