Addressing climate change impacts on food systems

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of the present time and is now affecting every country on every continent, especially the global south. Societies everywhere are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, which include changing weather patterns, rising sea level and more extreme weather events. Climate change is affecting socio-economic systems and ecosystems all over the world and impacts, such as floods, seawater intrusion, droughts and heat waves, will become more acute and severe, and less predictable in the coming decades. These impacts will affect (the quality and amount of resources for) food and feed production, will damage and destroy ecosystems and human settlements, and will disrupt economies.

Despite regional differences, the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicated that climate change is already having a negative impact on food security. Climate change threatens the capacity of ecosystems and natural capital to support food production needed to feed an increasing global population. The impacts of global climate change on food systems are expected to be widespread, complex, geographically and temporally variable, and vulnerability is profoundly influenced by socioeconomic conditions. Historical statistical studies and integrated assessment models provide evidence that climate change is affecting agricultural yields and earnings, food prices, reliability of delivery, food quality, and, notably, food safety and is likely to increase the claim for land.

Climate change also threatens food systems by altering rainfall patterns, increasing the frequency of extreme weather events and adversely affecting soil resources. The World Economic Forum identifies extreme weather events and failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation in the top-five risks with the largest impact on the global economy (WEF Global Risk Report, 2018). Alleviating climate change is high on political agendas. Urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts is required through both climate change mitigation and adaptation.