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There has never been a more important time to address rural poverty in developing countries. It looks likely that global food security and climate change will be among the key issues of the 21st century. – Kanayo Nwanze, IFAD
Increasing drought, water shortages, and extreme weather events due to a changing climate will force us to find new ways to meet the growing demand for food as resources become more constrained. A recent UNEP study looked at historical damage to food crops from high temperatures during the growing season alongside projections of future warming. It suggests that unprecedented heat during the growing season could threaten food security in many regions.
As much as 1/4 of global food production could be lost by 2050 due to the combined impact of climate change, land degradation, and water scarcity. At the same time, global population is projected to increase from the current 6.76 billion to about 9.5 billion people. The map shows projected regional changes in agricultural productivity due to climate change by 2080:
Map: UNEP/GRID Arendale
If local temperature increases are limited to 1 to 3°C, some regions, such as Northern Europe and North America, could benefit from a longer growing season, more precipitation, and less frost, depending on the crop. However, these regions can also expect more flooding, which can reduce yields. If local temperatures rise beyond 1 to 3°C, crop yields are likely to decline as rising heat affects water availability and plant development. This illustrates the importance of reducing emissions enough to limit temperature increases to below this level.
- As many as 800 million more people will face water or cropland scarcity by 2025. [Global Food Security]
- Poor people in the developing world can spend from 50-80% of their income on food. [Oxfam International]
- Food prices are once again on the rise, passing the levels reached during the crisis of 2007-08 that pushed the number of hungry people in the world over 1 billion. [Oxfam International]
- More than 1/3 of all children are malnourished and 6 million children a year die of causes related to malnutrition.
- More people die each year from hunger and malnutrition than from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. [UN World Food Programme]
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