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Climate Change and Food Systems: Global assessments and implications for food security and trade

At a time when the world is getting ready to sign up to the new sustainable development goals (SDGs), a study by UN agency Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that without action on climate change, commitments on food security and poverty eradication will be impossible to achieve. The study, "Climate Change and Food Systems (PDF, 31MB)”, highlights some of the key challenges posed by climate change - for example changes in temperature will affect crop nutrition by lowering concentrations of zinc, iron and protein and raising starch and sugar content in some plants such as wheat, rice and soybeans. Findings from the study show how a changing climate exacerbates not only productivity and sustainability challenges, but also nutrition challenges, including obesity and nutrition deficits in poor communities.

Highlighting the need for evidence-based “climate-smart policies”, the study aims to provide policy-makers a comprehensive overview of food systems linking climate change to food, health and nutrition, water scarcity, and global food trade. The evidence gathered in the book suggests that any adaptation and mitigation strategies will need to vary from region to region and will likely need to adapt to new challenges, in particular more frequent natural disasters.

The book sends one clear message for decision-makers: “There is no single trajectory of climate change impacts for the future. Instead, there will be a range of possible outcomes – some more likely than others – and all of them will depend on the part of the world being considered. Nevertheless, we can be confident about one thing: the climate change risks to agricultural output, to food systems and to food security will increase over time and therefore must not be ignored by those making medium- and long-term planning decisions about food security.”

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