Climate change driving world hunger, new UN report says

After steadily declining for over a decade, world hunger is again on the rise. 815 million people were affected in 2016, or 11 per cent of the world’s population, finds a new UN report. Millions of children worldwide are at risk from malnutrition.

This alarming rise in global hunger – 38 more million people than the previous year – is largely due to the proliferation of climate-related shocks and violent conflicts, according to the report The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017. More than half of those going hungry – 489 people – live in countries affected by conflict.

“Over the past decade, conflicts have risen dramatically in number and become more complex and intractable in nature,” said the heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in a joint foreword to the report.

Some of the highest proportions of food-insecure and malnourished children in the world are now concentrated in conflict zones.

The report is the first UN global assessment on food security and nutrition to be released following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 as a top international policy priority.

“This has set off alarm bells we cannot afford to ignore: we will not end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 unless we address all the factors that undermine food security and nutrition. Securing peaceful and inclusive societies is a necessary condition to that end,” they said.

While the report singled out conflict as one of the key drivers behind the resurgence of hunger and many forms of malnutrition, even more peaceful regions are experiencing severe hunger due to climate change.

Droughts or floods linked in part to the El Niño weather phenomenon as well as the global economic slowdown are also contributing to a deterioration in food security and nutrition.


Image credit: Jamie Martin / World Bank via Flickr

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