The United Nations' 2018 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, released Tuesday, reveals that climate change is having a negative effect on global agriculture and has increased the number of persons considered to be "hungry" around the world.
Prior to the release of the U.N. document, another report published by the World Food Programme (WFP) Friday said that over two million people in Central America are at risk of chronic hunger due to drought, one of the consequences of climate change. According to the WFP report, climate change is causing extended periods of drought in Central America’s “Dry Corridor,” which includes Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and has caused poor annual harvest leaving a large number of people in precarious conditions.
Miguel Angel Garcia, regional director in Central America for Action Against Hunger, said poor crop harvests caused already vulnerable families to be forced into a spiral of debt forcing a sell off of their lands.
Tuesday's report by the U.N. painted a similar picture but on a global scale. Officials found that 821 million people, or one in every nine persons, were malnourished in 2017, which is an increase from 815 million in 2016. Figures which show that the U.N.'s goal of eradicating world hunger by 2030 may be unrealistic.
The leaders of the five U.N. agencies; U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the U.N. Children's Fund, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization, said in the cosigned report, “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.”
Changes in climate around the world are undermining the production of major crops such as wheat, rice, and maize in tropical regions, a trend feared to worsen in the coming years.
U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, warned Monday that world is facing a direct existential threat and there is an immediate need to prevent runaway climate change.
"Climate change is moving faster than we are," Guterres said. "We need to put the brake on deadly greenhouse gas emissions and drive climate action.”
As examples of the result of climate change; the U.N. chief pointed to Kerala, which recently saw some of India’s worst monsoon flooding in decades; Hurricane Maria, which caused over 3000 deaths in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean last year; and the disappearance of hundreds of square miles of Arctic ice pack.
"If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us," Guterres warned.
He appealed to world leaders to take action immediately stating that climate change is the greatest challenge the world has ever faced and there is a need for urgent action to respond to it.