KORE - Knowledge Sharing Platform on Resilience

The dual threat of extreme weather and the COVID-19 crisis: Anticipating the impacts on food availability

21/07/2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound effect on the global economy and is jeopardizing the livelihoods and food security of millions of people. In June 2020, the World Bank released its outlook on the global economy, estimating a contraction of 5.2 percent and the deepest global recession in decades. The effects of this global recession on agri-food production, consumption and trade are likely to be adverse.

The global recession is occurring in the context of a rapidly changing climate. This year is expected to be the second hottest in recorded history. Weather forecasts for 2020 indicate a high probability that extreme weather will adversely affect food production in many countries. Anticipating how extreme weather events may affect food availability in the context of a severely weakened global economy, and where the risks posed by this dual threat are greatest, is important for taking proactive steps to reduce these risks.

This brief draws on historical evidence and demonstrates that reductions in national food availability caused by severe weather events tend to be considerably larger in magnitude when they occur during global economic downturns. The risks posed by this dual threat are particularly high for poorer countries that are net food importers. Taking actions to mitigate these adverse effects in the short-term, while building the resilience of agri-food systems to future shocks is critical for avoiding major contractions in food availability and associated risks of food insecurity.

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