Current Affairs

UN report flags changes in food system to boost climate action

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  • Categories
    World Affairs
  • Published
    4th Sep, 2020
  • Context:

    • The world has missed out on significant opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it is not too late, a report published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on strengthening food systems in the age of climate crisis stated.
  • Background

    • Food loss and waste has been ignored widely, according to the report. However, by simply adding these aspects to national climate plans, policymakers can improve their mitigation and adaptation contributions from food systems by as much as 25 per cent, the report said. This will enhance the process of achieving the Sustainable Development (SDG) goals by 2030, it added.
    • Currently, diets and food loss and waste are widely ignored in national climate plans, but by adding them, policymakers can improve their mitigation and adaptation contributions from food systems, by as much as 25 per cent.
    • The report, Enhancing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for Food Systems, was released on September 1, 2020. The report identified 16 ways to address the issue and put it forward in the public domain for policymakers to take action.
    • According to the 2015 Paris Agreement, all member countries are expected to revise or resubmit their NDCs every five years. The meeting was scheduled for September 2, 2020.
    • The report was put forward to help policymakers adopt food systems solutions and set more ambitious targets and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, in turn, improve biodiversity, food security, and public health.
    • Food security, hunger and food wastage are being discussed largely, especially in the wake of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID -19) pandemic, which exposed the fragility of the food supply chain. On the other hand, the pandemic has demonstrated how business need to rebuild food systems.
    • This crisis offers us a chance to radically rethink how we produce and consume food. For example, reorienting consumption by halving food waste and catalysing a shift towards more plant-rich diets is also a powerful climate mitigation tool to take advantage of.
  • What are the Effects of climate change on food security?

    Effects on availability and production of the food:

    • Climate change alters the agro-ecological conditions and effects the production and growth pattern of the crops
    • Change in land quality, precipitation, temperature, availability of the gases in atmosphere greatly affects the crops.
    • Climate change hits the drier spots the most as the land becomes more dry and loses the productivity.
    • Crops in temperate lands might increase the productivity due to increase in the temperature but however other conditions resulted due to climate change such as drought, unpredictable rainfall, heat waves, coastal storms however brings more devastation than the production.
    • Although crop production increases 10% to 20% at 550ppm CO2, the nutritional quality decreases. Most crops do not survive at the high concentration of greenhouses gases.
    • Increase in temperature is favorable for the pest and the insects. This increases the pest invasion in the agricultural fields.
    • Beside the crops, climate change also affects the livestock, marine species and others.

    Effects on the stability of the food supplies:

    • Climate change results in extreme weather events such as floods, landslide, soil-erosion, cyclone, droughts, etc.
    • These events affects the agricultural production and the pattern.
    • They too affect in access and utilization of food thus disrupting the food security strategies of individual and government.

    Effects on health and life:

    • With the climate change many vectors borne (like malaria), water borne diseases increases.
    • Warmer climate also increases the prevalence of food poisoning, diarrhea, salmonellosis etc.
    • Climate change directly or indirectly forms the cycle of hunger, disease and poverty.
    • Higher exposure of people to disease, added food insecurity, health problems, healthcare practices decreases their capacity to utilize the food.

    Effects in the food access:

    • Climate change can increase the price of the major crops.
    • The change in the global agricultural pattern would alter the balance between food demand and the supply. With demand being much higher than the supply the price of the food are sure to increase.
    • Those people who were already at the risk of losing their access to the food would be further more in risk.
    • Poverty, hunger and malnourishment are more likely to increase and the poor are hit the hardest.
  • What are the measures to cope up with the food insecurity?

    1. Risk reduction
    2. Risk management
    3. Risk coping

       1. Risk reduction

    • One cannot undo the steps that has caused climate change but can definitely prevent it from getting worst. Risk reduction usually refers to the measures to reduce and prevent the emission of the greenhouse gases.
    1. Risk management
    • It refers to minimizing the effects of the climate change.
    • Improve the irrigation facility
    • Utilization of scientific tools, improvised seeds and fertilizers etc in agricultures.
    • Improve agricultural research on drought tolerant crops.
    1. Risk coping
    • Disaster preparedness strategies
    • Diversifying towards climatically optimal crop and livestock varieties, adjusting land use and cropping patterns
    • Public policies that focuses more on the vulnerable and the marginalized groups.
    • Collective efforts from the individual, governmental and global level to reduce the burden of climate change.


    Climate change has significant implications for agriculture and food security, creating new risks and challenges and exacerbating existing vulnerabilities from the local to the global level. In this regard, report published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on strengthening food systems is vital in dealing with food security issues due to climate change.

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