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FAO Assesses Climate Change Impacts on Food Security and Trade

last modified Jun 24, 2015 05:46 PM
18 June 2015: In a book reviewing scientific and economic climate change impacts on food and agriculture over the past 20 years, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) underscores policy implications for hunger, poverty and global food trade.

Based on evidence gathered by a group of scientists and economists over these two decades, the book is intended as an accessible source for decision makers and practitioners working on food security, health and nutrition, water scarcity and climate adaptation.

The book, titled 'Climate Change and Food Systems: Global Assessments and Implications for Food Security and Trade,' finds that climate change will have significant effects on where and how food is produced, and will decrease the nutritional quality of some crops. In her foreword to the book, FAO Deputy Director-General for Natural Resources Maria Helena Semedo highlights "the potential role of trade as a driver to mitigate some of the negative impact of climate on global food production."

According to the book, climate change is exacerbating difficulties caused by the growing global demand for agricultural commodities as incomes rise and the world's population increases. The book examines potential technological solutions to climate change and their adaptation co-benefits, highlighting potential trade-offs.

On the nutritional content of crops, FAO states that a higher concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) "lowers the amount of zinc, iron and protein, and raises the starch and sugar content in some of the world's major food crops, such as wheat and rice." On the other hand, the book highlights how human diets could offer solutions to problems exacerbated by climate change. For example, reducing meat consumption could conserve as much water as is required to feed 1.8 billion people.

As mentioned in the book, trade is likely to expand with climate change, but extreme weather events may also inhibit trade, interrupting supply chains, transportation and logistics. The authors argue that a "structured dialogue," with the involvement of scientific experts, policymakers, civil society and the private sector, is needed to develop an adequate strategy for addressing the impacts described in the book and inform policy action. [FAO Press Release] [FAO Publication Webpage] [Publication: Climate Change and Food Systems: Global Assessments and Implications for Food Security and Trade]