Agrifood Economics


The impact of climate variability and extremes on agriculture and food security - An analysis of the evidence and case studies
Background paper for The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018. FAO Agricultural Development Economics Technical Study No. 4
Holleman, C., Rembold, F., Crespo, O. & Conti, V.
Publication date

Global climate studies show that not only temperatures are increasing and precipitation levels are becoming more varied, all projections indicate these trends will continue. It is therefore imperative that we understand changes in climate over agricultural areas and their impacts on agriculture production and food security. This study presents new analysis on the impact of changing climate on agriculture and food security, by examining the evidence on recent climate variability and extremes over agricultural areas and the impact of these on agriculture and food security. It shows that more countries are exposed to increasing climate variability and extremes and the frequency (the number of years exposed in a five-year period) and intensity (the number of types of climate extremes in a five-year period) of exposure over agricultural areas have increased.

The findings of this study are compelling and bring urgency to the fact that climate variability and extremes are proliferating and intensifying and are contributing to a rise in global hunger. The world’s 2.5 billion small-scale farmers, herders, fishers, and forest-dependent people, who derive their food and income from renewable natural resources, are most at risk and affected. Actions to strengthen the resilience of livelihoods and food systems to climate variability and extremes urgently need to be scaled up and accelerated. 

This publication was developed as a background study for "The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018"