The 2018 report released by the United Nations' on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World on Tuesday points a finger to climate change for the rise in global food insecurity. According to the report, one in every nine people, or 821 million individuals, were malnourished in 2017. This number increased from 815 million individuals in 2016.
"Hunger has been on the rise over the past three years, returning to levels from a decade ago," the UN agencies responsible for hunger and health said in a statement. This reversal in progress sends a clear warning that more must be done and urgently if the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger is to be achieved by 2030." The organizations involved in the report were the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the UN Children's Fund, the World Food Programme, and the World Health Organization.
Specific regions seem to be faring better than others. While Asia’s undernourishment has slowed in recent years, undernourishment in South America and Africa has only increased. Sub-Saharan Africa has hit a significant low, with an increase of 22.6% undernourished individuals in the past six years.
The report specifically calls out climate change as the main factor in causing these significant global downfalls. Increasingly variable rainfall patterns, droughts, and severe storms that bring flooding and landslides, all consequences of human-driven climate change, play a huge part in world hunger. Wheat, rice, and maize, crops which much of the world’s population depend on for their daily intake of calories, are all vulnerable to underproduction due to such climate variability.
The outlook is grim, too, considering that all climate models predict that things will get worse before they get better (conditional upon major reductions in carbon dioxide emissions). And to add insult to injury, the report explains that countries suffering the most from climate change also tend to have the highest number of undernourished people.
The take-home point of this year’s report is clear: "If we are to achieve a world without hunger and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030, it is imperative that we accelerate and scale up actions to strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity of food systems and people's livelihoods in response to climate variability and extremes," the report stated. It also urges the need to invest in better disaster risk management plans.