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Paris, September 11, 2018 – The report on the state of food security and nutrition in the world (SOFI), released today by United Nations agencies, shows a drastic increase in the number of people suffering from hunger in 2017.
Governments and the International Community need to take immediate and joint actions if they want to meet with the zero hunger objective by 2030. The implementation of sustainable, nutritive and resilient food systems is a priority in this regards.
821 million of people suffered from hunger in 2017. In other words, one person out of nine is undernourished in the world. After years of progressive decline, global hunger is increasing for the third consecutive year which undermines 10 years of progress. Furthermore, while extreme hunger is on the rise in conflict zones (Kasaï in Democratic Republic of Congo, or Yemen sadly illustrate this trend), people are also increasingly suffering from food insecurity in more stable areas.
In order to adequately solve this problem, we need to address the vicious cycle between conflict and hunger (75% of malnourished people live in conflict areas), but we also need to consider hunger as a long-term process maintained and aggravated by climate change. The figure shows that by 2080 there will be an additional 600 million people suffering from hunger due to climate change: countries the most suffering from hunger are also the one the most affected by climate variability and extremes.
The first victims of hunger are the poorest populations and especially women. Even though the SOFI report highlights the progress made in the fight against malnutrition, they remain far from sufficient in regards of the upcoming challenges. We are currently facing the risk that all the recent achievements made in the fight against hunger will be jeopardize by the consequences of climate change. In this respect, and according to the fact that the world has increasingly to deal with situations where under-nutrition and over-nutrition coexist, a specific effort needs to be made to promote sustainable, diversified, healthy and nutritious diets.
« The number of extreme climate events has doubled since the early 1990s. Those sudden events, together with increasing climate variability, have direct impacts on the food security and nutrition status of millions of people who depend on agriculture and livestock in order to survive. » explains Pascal Revault, Director of Expertise and Advocacy at Action contre la Faim.
In contexts where livelihoods are highly dependent of climate hazards, there is a strong correlation between climate change and the number of hungry people. In the Sahel region for instance, 65% of the active population has agriculture/livestock related livelihoods: last year’s low rainfalls put the food security of millions of people at risk in the sub-region by decreasing drastically the availability of forage resources.
« In order to solve this problem, we need to rethink our approach of the agriculture sector and to start promoting food systems that are truly sustainable and nutritious. Agriculture is the largest contributor to climate change with 70% of the total gas emissions; and droughts account for 80% of damage and loss in agriculture. It’s an emergency to endorse an agro-ecological transition and to promote sustainable production modes that really benefit the most vulnerable » declares Pascal Revault.
"It’s an emergency to endorse an agro-ecological transition and to promote sustainable production modes that really benefit the most vulnerable"
The most vulnerable and especially small-scale producers and family farmers must be central of agricultural related policies and climate change action plans. Consequently, the funds dedicated to their adaptation to climate change need to be drastically increased. We need to go beyond a simple change of scale in our approaches. The challenge of reducing the number of hungry people in a world above two degrees will never be met without an ambitious shift of paradigm in the way we view and address hunger.
The main victims of hunger and climate change: the protagonists of African and South American agricultural systems are the first calling for an agro-ecological transition. They are insistently requesting an urgent change in agricultural practices and an agro-ecological transition that would be sustainable, nutritious and shaped around the needs and the rights of the most vulnerable populations. So far, whether they be from the South or from the North, governments are not hearing this call.