Climate change affects everyone, but not equally

There is no doubt in that adverse climate change impacts are growing in intensity and frequency. Data show that average global surface air temperatures in 2020 were about 1.25°C above the average for 1850-1900 and there was a 0.6°C increase compared to the 1981-2010 period. Twenty of the last 21 years were the hottest recorded years in history.

If emissions continue unabated, an additional 71 million people will suffer hunger each year from 2030 and as many as 90 million from 2040, due to the long-term effects of climate change.

Claudia Ringler

Claudia Ringler is Deputy Division Director of the Environment and Production Technology Division (EPTD) at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).  IFPRI provides research-based solutions to sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition in developing countries.

High-income countries are reporting more people dying from heat stress in urban centers, fire seasons that start earlier, are larger and more destructive, and drying of agricultural fields. Yet the challenge set is much broader, the impacts are more grim, and the outlook is much bleaker in low-and medium income countries (LMICs).

 

"The number of Asian countries experiencing multiple climate shocks per year more than doubled to 51% between 2011-2016. Significant parts of India are already subject to regular heat waves. Another 0.5 to 1.0 degree increase will make these parts of the country uninhabitable. Due to India's population density, the temperature rise here will lead to unprecedented migration flows."
– Shenggen Fan, former Director General IFPRI, Oct. 10, 2019

 

In LMICs, mitigating food security impacts from climate change is front and center, and will require major changes and investments in many areas. Research by CGIAR and other partners has helped policymakers to better understand the impacts of climate change on poor populations and is advancing science and practical solutions to reduce the worst impacts.

 

"Another recent IPCC report predicted a 2 to 6 percent decline in global crop yields every decade going forward — that’s potentially millions of acres phasing out annually — due to drought, heat, flooding, superstorms, weather volatility, shifting seasons, insect infestations and other symptoms of a warming planet."
– Time Magazine, Aug. 28, 2019

 

Despite the complexities of determining the precise impacts of climate change on future agricultural productivity and food security, the broad consensus is that food supplies will shrink. Production will be hit hardest in LMICs, and overall impacts will be largest for the poorest populations, particularly those residing in sub-Saharan Africa that still spend 40 to 60 percent of their income on food (4 to 5 times more than average consumers in rich countries do). IFPRI food projection models show the increased risk of hunger by 2050 from long-term changes in temperature and precipitation levels alone, based on IFPRI food projection models. By 2019, 690 million people (or nearly 10 percent of the global population) were already suffering from malnutrition, and model results suggest that in just a few years, another 80 million people could be affected by hunger each year due to the impacts of climate change, with an upward trend toward the year 2100.

 

The 2050 estimates would be much higher if localized weather shocks and climate-induced disasters, such as droughts, floods, storms and forest fires, were considered, all of which are expected to increase in number and severity. Emerging pest and disease outbreaks, which are also increasingly linked to climate change and environmental degradation, would yet further add to these numbers. This includes the recent locust outbreak in Africa and growing fall armyworm outbreaks in Africa and Asia, but also zoonotic diseases such as coronaviruses.

 

"The highly mobile creatures can travel over 80 miles a day. Their swarms, which can contain as many as 80 million locust adults in each square kilometer, eat the same amount of food daily as about 35,000 people."
– New York Times, Feb. 21, 2020

 

Lower food production, in turn, pushes prices of food upward and depresses food demand as poorer people cannot pay for more expensive foods, including more expensive, nutrient-dense foods that are, however, essential for healthy diets, such as milk, eggs, meats, fruits and vegetables. Even before the pandemic 85 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa and 76 percent of South Asia’s population could not afford a healthy diet because incomes were too low and food prices too high. The situation is similar for poorer people in other regions of the globe.

 

Undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies – a lack of essential vitamins and minerals – directly contribute to stunting in children, often resulting in lower cognitive skills, lower earning capabilities later in life, higher risk of illness and increased mortality.

 

"Lockdowns imposed to halt the pandemic will this year deprive 250 million children in poor countries of scheduled supplements of Vitamin A, elevating the threat of premature death, according to UNICEF."
– New York Times, Sept. 11, 2020

 

Growth faltering at a very early age can generally not be recovered and can generate “lost” generations that have been permanently deprived of their potential to thrive. To retain basic energy levels, poor families resort to consuming more staple foods (cereals or roots and tubers, depending on the region), whose prices will also rise but will remain below those of more nutrient-dense foods on a cost per calorie basis.

 

In response to this challenge, a large CGIAR biofortification initiative is directly breeding important micronutrients into cheaper staple crops. This undertaking is also important because climate change’s elevated CO2 concentrations directly reduce the concentration of nutrients that are important for health, such as iron, zinc and protein in key staple crops, including wheat, rice, barely and soybeans.

 

Climate change also contributes to the increased occurrence of aflatoxins, a family of toxins produced by certain fungi that are found on key agricultural crops, particularly maize and groundnuts in tropical regions between 40 degrees north and south of the equator, thus affecting most African countries. But the areas at risk from aflatoxins are expanding with climate change, and include parts of Europe. Contamination in the field is more likely in hot, dry conditions, when crops are stressed and subject to abiotic stresses, such as fungi, and is exacerbated by humidity and poor drying for storage and transportation. Habitual ingestion of aflatoxins with maize and peanuts is associated with stunting, causes liver cancer and immune suppression, and at high ingestion levels can be fatal.

 

Climate change impacts go far beyond going hungry and getting ill—impacts trigger migration of family members or entire families, if they can afford it. Droughts have been linked to increased HIV cases in women, possibly due to transactional sex or displacement to procure income and food; and to increased intimate partner violence against women.

 

"In the African Sahel, millions of rural people have been streaming toward the coasts and the cities amid drought and widespread crop failures."

New York Times, July 23, 2020

 

What can be done to reduce climate change impacts on food security and nutrition? To fight climate change, we need to accelerate breeding of crops that can withstand climate change and associated diseases, and increase the nutritional value of crops (such as through biofortification). At the same time, strengthening  crop traits that increase nitrogen and phosphorous efficiency can reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture. Sustained support to agricultural research and development can improve and expand breeding efforts, identify livestock production systems with lower emissions per liter of milk, per dozen eggs and per animal carcass weight, and more.

 

Given the growing incidence of extreme weather events, we need to keep global food trade routes open, reduce existing barriers, and ensure that countries do not resort to protective measures when climate and other shocks hit.

 

"The floods [caused by Cyclone Idai] destroyed more than 700,000 hectares of farmland just before the harvest, according to the government. That's about three times the area of Saarland. About half a million small farmers and their families have lost their livelihoods in some cases."
– Spiegel, Apr. 14, 2019

 

Many LMICs depend on food imports and open trade regimes from more temperate regions to meet current food demands, as agricultural productivity and underlying investments have been lacking for decades.  Expanding trade and food aid to address climate-induced humanitarian crises, is a solution, but food production in richer countries is also affected and trade alone will not be sufficient to protect poor countries against food shortages caused by climate change.

 

In addition to these investments and institutions, we all need to do better on reducing climate-related risk, while improving food security. This includes improving the access of women and men farmers to sustainable agricultural water supplies for food production, nutrition and resilience; putting clean energy access within reach for everyone in the world; extending climate advisory services and social safety nets to those most affected by adverse climatic events; all while improving, in parallel, ecosystem health, which is essential to retaining the key ecosystem functions that underlie our food systems.

 

None of these actions is geared to dramatically lower emissions, as the vast majority of emissions are generated not in the poorest countries but rather in the Global North. Thus, in addition to urgently needed investments in climate change adaptation in low-income countries of the Global South – linked to emissions reductions when feasible – we need to also prioritize dramatic reductions in emissions generated in rich countries. Everyone is called to action, and everyone can act. The EU has released new environmental regulations to retain biodiversity and fight climate change. While these are essential to combat climate change, injudicious implementation can increase food insecurity of poor countries and put pressure on tropical deforestation.

 

While we might be losing the race to keep global temperatures below a 1.5 degree rise, we can still dramatically slow growth in emissions and reduce adverse impacts on food and livelihood security of the poorest. Saving lives and livelihoods requires that we act now!

 

Go back

Ähnliche Beiträge

The hope of development cooperation lays in innovation

Policy makers wish for innovation. But what is an innovation that truly takes Africa a step forward? With the support of the SEWOH partners, journalist Jan Grossarth took a critical look at the demand for innovation.

Is innovation a cure? A meaningless filler? Even problematic? And: In what way? Taking a critical post-colonial look at the past, the “innovation history” of Africa appears to be a double-edged sword, in any case. Historian Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, who teaches at MIT in the USA, deplores the failure and even largely destructive effect of “western” technology and knowledge exports to Africa. In his works about innovation in Africa, “capitalistic entrepreneurship” appears as “imperialism” in modified form and downright “parasitical” in its nature. A problematic definition of innovation, he says, has been transferred to Africa particularly from Europe. A definition that is limited to technical aspects, industrial scaling and commercial use.

Read more

From Space to Seed: Innovation for world nutrition

From crop forecasts out of space to resistant seeds: What ideas and technologies have been developed in recent years to revolutionize the world's nutrition? We present a selection of innovations that could be decisive in the fight against hunger.

Read more

The world needs empowered farmers!

The world needs empowered farmers! But what does that mean and how can it be organized? With the support of the SEWOH partners, journalist Jan Grossarth has gathered guiding thoughts on the topic in an article.

Organised agricultural lobbying is rare in industrialised nations. Is the political influence of certain interest groups that have excellent parliamentary connections and work quietly behind the scenes in aid of meat exports or biomass subsidies excessively large and insufficiently transparent? Such questions are a subject of discussion in Europe and the USA, but also in Brazil or Argentina. And for good reason. With regard to global food security another, to some extent countervailing question arises: how can “good lobbying” for the development interests of the world’s smallholders emerge? Would it not, after all, be widely beneficial, and also necessary in order to ensure a stable global food supply, if the hundreds of millions of local farmers in Africa and Asia were able to represent their income- and development-related interests more effectively in parliaments, the media and international organisations?

Read more

Agroecology: a global political guiding perspective?

Agroecology is a popular buzzword in food policy worldwide. It is based on a complex concept that journalist Jan Grossarth, with the support of the SEWOH partners, has examined and called into question.

Agroecology cannot be defined in one phrase. It would take some pages. As a political guiding perspective – perhaps because of its variety – it is suitable to pleasing everyone. The European Commission is relying on this approach as part of the Green Deal as its 10-year transformation plan, and the term is also mentioned in the Farm to Fork food strategy of the EU Commission. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has commissioned its leading experts from the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) to shed light on the approach in a 163-page report (the HLPE Report, 2019). The summary alone uses eleven key points in its definition. An agroecological approach, it says, “favours the use of natural processes, limits the use of external inputs, promotes closed cycles with minimal negative externalities and stresses the importance of local knowledge and participatory processes” – while also being designed to reduce social inequalities and to help the sciences to gain in importance. 

Read more

Agroecology at UN level: The FAO's Scaling up Agroecology Initiative

Growing scientific evidence and local experiences demonstrate how agroecology has the potential to offer a holistic response to the multiple and interrelated challenges facing food systems.

Read more

The garden of agroecology: A few real-life examples

The challenges of population growth, dwindling biodiversity and climate change require to rethink our current food systems and call for solution approaches in terms of an agroecological transformation.

Read more

Why the transformation of our food systems is imperative

Current crises highlight the need to transform food systems. Dr Sinclair, team leader of the World Food Security Committee, presents 13 agro-ecological principles that might be effective for change.

Read more

Ms Neubert, what is a trilemma? And what can be done about it?

In order to alleviate the trilemma of land use, the climate crisis, the destruction of biodiversity and the food crisis must be addressed simultaneously. Susanne Neubert explains in an interview what such strategies might look like.

Read more

Beyond your own field

An exchange program between the German Farmers' Association and the Andreas Hermes Academy for young German and Ugandan farmers shows: North-South cooperation works best at eye level. Four graduates report on what is possible when farmers learn from each other.

Read more

A globally popular export

"One for all, all for one" - this motto became the basis for action of agricultural cooperatives that were founded in the 19th century. They became a success story that will continue to be written well into the 21st century.

Read more

Meet the people: Joseph Ngaah

Joseph Ngaah is chairman of the Kakamega County Farmers Association in Kenya. Through his commitment at national and local level, he gives farmers a voice - both in the media and with political decision-makers. Within the SEWOH, he cooperates with the Andreas Hermes Academy, the Green Innovation Centers and TMG - Sustainable Think Tank.

Read more

Labels, customs tariffs and supply chain legislation: Do they benefit or harm smallholders?

In the discussion about sustainability in supply chains, European states focus on labels, customs tariffs and government regulations. With the support of the SEWOH partners, Jan Grossarth questions these measures.

After the eight-storey Rana Plaza factory collapsed in Bangladesh in April 2013, killing over a thousand textile workers under the rubble, the issue of human rights in sewing factories dominated global news for a few days. The initial shock turned into shame. After all, wasn’t everyone who bought cheap T-shirts and jeans somehow responsible? This was followed by a political debate: Hadn’t the disaster happened in a domain where the state, i.e. Bangladesh, should have ensured compliance with its laws? Or, on the other hand, do we not have a say in the regulations determining how the products we consume are manufactured? Not only through consumption, but through our government and companies?

Read more

Farmers in revolt-their movement brings unity and hope

Since 2014, a law has guaranteed all Indians sufficient healthy food at affordable prices. Now one of the biggest waves of protest in history is rocking the subcontinent. Farmers are fighting back against laws that abolish guaranteed minimum prices and put nutrition programmes in jeopardy.  

 

Read more

Drones for Inclusive Growth in Agriculture

BASF’s project Drones for Smallholder Farmers aims to build an inclusive business model that will facilitate access of smallholders to drones for spraying crop protection products. A report by Dr. Diana Moran.

Read more

The path from the greenhouse into practice

Innovative ideas like apps are popular showcases. But for the successful implementation of an innovation, thinking beyond the boundaries of projects is necessary. Lennart Woltering explains in an interview how to move from the greenhouse into practice.

Read more

Deforestation and ecosystem conversion: a strict EU legal framework is imperative

Christine Scholl, Senior Advisor at WWF Germany, explains why a binding and comprehensive EU regulation is crucial in avoiding deforestation and conversion of valuable ecosystems and what such legislation must take into account.

Read more

Banking on innovation and sustainability in the cocoa value chain

Juliette Kouassi founded the cocoa cooperative ABOUd'CAO in Côte d'Ivoire, which dismantles traditional role definitions. The aim is to promote women producers and "throw anything away in the cocoa value chain, by rendering value to everything."

Read more

We begins with you: Three propositions for consumer communication

Generation Z (1995-2010) is forcing manufacturers of consumer goods to rethink their production values. The “Greta effect” not only compels companies to act. It also promises great potential for development cooperation to reach its goals.  

Read more

The right to nutrition: how we can realise it

Stefan Schmitz is head of the Crop Trust and has been SEWOH Commissioner until 2019. We asked him which aspects of the SEWOH could be groundbreaking in order to achieve global goals such as SDG 2 at a national and a global level.

Read more

Supply chains: “The EU’s general principle is to support, not to punish”

Aside from the German Federal government, EU institutions are also encouraging the introduction of a supply chain law. What would be the consequences? Questions for Bettina Rudloff of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP).

Read more

A masterplan for nutrition governance

Ending worldwide hunger by 2030 requires effective governance. This masterplan is based on the experience of the GIZ global programme for “Food and Nutrition Security, Enhanced Resilience,” which works on improving nutrition governance in ten countries around the world.

Read more

Creating a political momentum for global food governance

To feed the world's population in 2050, "the fine art of governance" is required, according to Jan Grossarth. With the help of the SEWOH partners, he has shed light on what this art includes and what challenges it encounters.

There has been some modest progress everywhere and in many thousands of local projects. But what if this won’t be enough in view of the global challenge? According to UN forecasts, Africa’s population is set to double by 2050, reaching over two billion people. Yet food imports on the continent are already exceeding exports, so it is not providing enough food for itself. Climate forecasts are predicting that in some African (and Asian) regions average temperatures will rise by 3 degrees or more. Moreover, deserts are spreading, with the prospect that development cooperation will be ineffective if it merely distributes resources under the watering can principle. 

Read more

In the land of conflicts 

Land is the foundation of life for most Ugandans. In central Uganda, an ancient land tenure system has caused an impasse for both landlords and tenants hence causing conflicts for decades. An innovative approach to conflict solving, and awareness-raising is about to create change.

Read more

Global Hunger Index: Political action is the key

The World Hunger Index 2020 indicates that the goal of "Zero Hunger by 2030" will not be met. Miriam Wiemers, leading expert for the World Hunger Index, traces the main challenges and describes how the path to Zero Hunger can be taken.

Read more

Genetic engineering, fertilisers and agricultural chemicals - conflicting perspectives

Is modern genetic engineering an innovative answer for ensuring global food supply? And what about fertilisers and agricultural chemicals? Felix Prinz zu Löwenstein believes all three are part of the problem. Matthias Berninger thinks rejecting these new technologies is a risky ideological proposition. A debate.

Read more

How the Green Innovation Centre in Mali backs women in the San lowlands

Proper nutrition. An adequate diet. Higher incomes and more employment in rural areas. These are the goals of the 15 Green Innovation Centres established in Africa and Asia on behalf of the BMZ. But how are these goals put into practice in Bamako, Mali?

Read more

Babban Gona's holistic financing approach

What are innovative financing mechanisms and how can financing help to scale innovations? Kola Masha, Managing Director of Babban Gona explains his holistic business model, which he built up in Nigeria with financial help and support from the German KfW.

Read more

Even innovations take their time

Some good ideas never become reality. It takes patience, long-term thinking and the courage to learn from mistakes. Based on a conversation with software developer Simon Riedel, journalist Jan Rübel focused on the challenges of innovation in an international development context.

Read more

Why successful transformation needs strong governance?

The special initiative One World no hunger (SEWOH) is one donor nation's attempt to decisively push forward the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2). Observations and conclusions from the accompanying discourse.

In the summer of 2019, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), raised the alarm on the growing number of people going hungry. A “World Food Systems Summit” (UNFSS) in the autumn of 2021 intends to draw the necessary public attention to the issue of combatting hunger and increasing sustainability and provide fresh impetus for transforming the entire food system. In 2014, Germany’s Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Müller, launched a remarkable experiment: SEWOH, the Special Initiative ONEWORLD No Hunger. The idea was to drastically advance UN Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) with a sector approach initially driven by a single donor nation. Germany has invested around 1.5 billion euros annually towards achieving the UN goal, becoming the world’s second-largest donor in the fields of food security, rural development and agriculture. The initiative has explored new possibilities, yet it also had to face its limits. Vastly exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, it had to realise the vulnerabilities of global food security.  

Read more

Climate crises

Population growth, lawlessness and dwindling resources, accelerated by climate change, are leading to conflicts that leave thousands dead across the Sahel every year. "Many will leave their homelands or perish from hunger, disease or wars. Only rapid socioeconomic development [...] would be able to prevent this disaster."

Read more