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World Food Day Q3 2022

Resilient food systems as the solution to climate breakdown

Image credit: WFP/Nick Roeder

Gernot Laganda

Chief of Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction, WFP

The realities of the climate crisis are hitting home for increasing numbers of people. Record-breaking temperatures, heatwaves, and wildfires have been making headlines around the world.

While Europe and the US have started to feel the heat this summer, people in other regions have been dealing with worsening climate impacts for many years.

The number of people facing acute food insecurity has soared, from 135 million in 2019 to 345 million this year. A total of 50 million people in 45 countries are now teetering on the edge of famine. While the bulk of humanitarian emergencies remains linked to conflicts and economic shocks, the impact of weather-related disasters on hunger has intensified.

Out of the three factors driving hunger—conflicts, costs, and climate—climate change is the one that is not reversible. Once the planet has heated beyond 1.5°C degrees, which is likely to happen within this decade if no urgent action is taken by governments, it will be too late to prepare for unprecedented scenarios of poverty, migration, and starvation. To get ready for such a future, aid organisations and governments need to build systems now to manage the risks of tomorrow.

Our capability to adapt

Diversity in farming and energy systems is a hallmark of resilient societies. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has reminded governments that any over-dependency on certain crops and energy sources carries substantive risks. The World Food Programme (WFP) implements programmes that help smallholder farmers diversify crops and renewable energy solutions for food production, processing, storage, and transport which are key elements of adapting to a more adverse and uncertain climate.

A total of 50 million people in 45 countries are now teetering on the edge of famine.

In parallel, WFP prioritises the rehabilitation of degraded soils and ecosystems—a crucial element of protection from climate impacts. Layering these programmes with access to early warning systems and financial safety nets—for example, through climate insurance or shock-responsive social protection—helps communities build the capabilities they need to protect themselves now.

Urgency of climate action

Our world is becoming more dangerous and uncertain because of the climate crisis and a degraded environment. These issues directly and mercilessly impact the number of people who become dependent on humanitarian aid and the ability of governments and private donors to sustain mechanisms of international solidarity. At the same time, we know that solutions exist. Climate risks and the breakdown of food systems are linked in numerous ways, and so are the solutions we must deploy without any further delay.

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