Food security and climate change
Undernourished women and children under 5 could increase by 20 percent
20 JUNE 2012 | WASHINGTON - On a planet with sufficient food for all, today almost half a billion women and children under 5 in the developing world are undernourished –a consequence of persistently limited nutritious food intake.
This number could increase by 20 percent, reaching one in five within a decade, compared to one in seven today, due to the impacts of climate change on global food production, according to a detailed analysis by The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH), the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN), 1,000 Days, World Vision International and the Canadian International Development Agency and partners.
“Food security is under threat by climate change. The linkages between its impacts on global food production, price volatility, population growth and nutrition need to be addressed in order to tackle undernourishment of these more vulnerable groups,” says Carole Presern, Ph.D., Director of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health and a midwife.
According to the analysis, it is this equation of climate change and its impacts on food production plus increased population growth that would result in a deficit of global food production versus demand, which could increase by 100 million the number of undernourished women and children by 2020.
Food security will be one of the main issues to be discussed at both the Group of 20 (G20) and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) meetings in mid-June.
Spurred by continuing price volatility and public pressure to address this issue, “World leaders are just beginning to commit to action and investment to improve nutrition for mothers and children during the critical 1,000 days from pregnancy to age two, when nutrition can have a lifelong impact on a child’s future in terms of both health and development,” says Dr.Presern.
This new attention to nutrition is happening at country, regional and global levels. Some 27 countries accounting for 50 million undernourished women and children have committed to a new Scaling Up Nutrition effort, through which stakeholders are working to develop multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral coordination mechanisms and comprehensive national nutrition plans and aligning resources behind these plans.
Additionally, G8 leaders and African leaders reaffirmed their commitment to achieving food security through the launch of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which will join African governments, private sector institutions and G8 leadership in efforts to increase responsible domestic and foreign private investments in African agriculture, with a focus on smallholder farmers, especially women.
Ministers of Health at the 2012 World Health Assembly adopted a resolution on maternal, infant and young child nutrition that endorsed the WHO Comprehensive Implementation Plan on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition. It calls on member states to develop nutrition policies and to pass legislation to control the marketing of breast milk substitutes.