Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)


Climate Change, Food Security and Nutrition

Climate change directly affects food and nutrition security of millions of people, undermining current efforts to address undernutrition and hitting the poorest the hardest, especially women and children. It impacts people’s livelihoods and lifestyles through different pathways. Farmers, pastoralists, forest dwellers and fisherfolk are already facing more challenges in producing and gathering food due to changing weather patterns, such as erratic rains. In the short term the impacts can be linked to extreme weather events which contribute to casualties, household food insecurity, disease and handicap, increased population dislocation and insecurity. In the longer term, climate change affects natural resources and therefore food availability and access, but also environmental health and access to health care. In the most affected areas these long-term impacts eventually can lead to transitory or permanent migration, which often leaves female-headed households behind.

Climate change is therefore seen as a significant “hunger-risk multiplier”. In fact, some forecasts anticipate 24 million additional malnourished children by 2050 – almost half of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Poor health and undernutrition in turn further undermine people’s resilience to climatic shocks and their ability to adapt.

Climate change will exacerbate the crisis of undernutrition through three main causal pathways:

  • impacts on household access to sufficient, safe and adequate food;
  • impacts on care and feeding practices; and
  • impacts on environmental health and access to health services.

Unless severe measures are taken, and countries reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and increase the removal of these gases from the atmosphere, it will be increasingly difficult and expensive to adapt to climate change.

Climate-smart agriculture is one of the solutions that have been proposed to fight climate change. It is an approach that aims at combining food security and development, adaptation to climate change as well as reducing and removing emissions, whenever possible. It will not be an easy task to transform agriculture and food systems so that they would be truly climate-smart, also taking into account nutrition considerations. So far limited attention has been given to the interface between climate change and nutrition and relevant policies, programmes and projects remain by and large disconnected. The Rome Declaration on Nutrition and Framework of Action adopted by the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition in November 2014 recognized “the need to address the impacts of climate change and other environmental factors on food security and nutrition, in particular on the quantity, quality and diversity of food produced, taking appropriate action to tackle negative effects” and recommended to “establish and strengthen institutions, policies, programmes and services to enhance the resilience of the food supply in crisis-prone areas, including areas affected by climate change”.

The objective of this consultation is to gain a better understanding of the impact of climate change on food security and nutrition as well as the impact of  current dietary preferences and the related food systems. In addition, we invite you to identify possible measures to protect and/or improve nutrition and to adapt to climate change, while reducing and removing greenhouse gas emissions thus ensuring long-term food security.

We are well aware of the richness of relevant knowledge existing around the world and are looking forward to learn from your experience. We would therefore like to invite you to share your views on this thematic area. You may want to consider the following questions:

1) What are the main issues for policy-makers to consider when linking climate change on the one hand and food security and nutrition on the other, in particular when designing, formulating and implementing  policies and programmes?

2) What are the key institutional and governance challenges to the delivery of cross-sectoral and comprehensive policies that protect and promote nutrition of the most vulnerable, and contribute to sustainable and resilient food systems?

3) In your experience, what are key best-practices and lessons-learned in fostering cross-sectoral linkages to protect and improve nutrition while preventing, adapting to climate change and reducing and removing greenhouse gas emissions in projects?

This consultation is part of the online learning event Climate Change, Food Security and Nutrition, organized jointly by the Mitigation of Climate Change in Agriculture Programme of FAO and the FSN Forum. You are welcome to join the webinar on Tuesday 31 March 2015 or watch the recordings of the session afterwards (for more information see the web sites: and

We look forward to a lively and interesting exchange!

Florence Egal

This activity is now closed. Please contact [email protected] for any further information.

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Summary of the online discussion

Addressing climate change on the one hand, and improving food security and nutrition on the other, are closely interlinked issues and would benefit from being dealt with simultaneously. But policy agendas and mechanisms for production, resource conservation and social programmes are presently disjointed and there is a gap between agricultural policies, health policies and climate finance. And by and large, consumers are not aware of the implications of their food choices on environment and livelihoods, and are considered as passive recipients or customers.

Conventional agriculture – which contributes to climate change - and the policies and institutions that underpin global food security are increasingly inadequate. Rather than n as a new challenge, climate change should probably be seen as an additional factor of uncertainty. The present model and understanding of development privilege economic considerations and consider neither management of landscapes and ecosystems nor socio-cultural dimensions.

There is a persistent institutional bias of food and agriculture policies and practices towards specific commodities and species and international trade. Priority has been given in the last decades to cost effectiveness, resulting in withdrawing investment from remote and upland areas. And corruption remains an obstacle to sustainable development.

It is time to shift policy emphasis towards the promotion of sustainable and resilient food systems, and to discourage production practices which deplete and contaminate water supply, generate green house gas emissions, destroy native ecosystems and undermine health and nutrition. It is urgent that the public sector adopts a rights-based approach, reinvests in smart advisory services and focuses on smallholders. Support to family agriculture and in particular women, as well as the promotion of traditional foods and species and the prevention of waste, will contribute to more healthy ecosystems and populations.

Such a shift will generate a series of institutional challenges. Addressing climate change, food security and nutrition in an integrated manner will require a multi-disciplinary approach and a dynamic process of innovation that engages all actors. Policy makers, civil society, private sector, development partners and researchers must work together to increase local effectiveness and build leadership, cooperation and coordination at community/neighbourhood level. Inter-disciplinary teams, participatory planning multi-sectoral information and impact assessment systems will be needed (e.g. integrated watershed management) and particular attention should be given to ensure that policy setting processes at all levels are free from commercial influence.

Successful solutions to existing problems are present in rural areas and could/should be adapted and spread to other contexts. Multi-disciplinary research teams should therefore concentrate on generating practice-based evidence. Collaboration between local health and extension workers has proven essential to successful community-level strategies.

It is time to think beyond climate smart agriculture and to promote sustainable food systems which include the management of common property resources.  Sustainable agriculture must nurture healthy ecosystems and in areas affected by climate change, it is time to shift away from monoculture to local-specific, low-cost low risk agro-ecological systems, agroforestry and integrated farming. It is important to revive and propagate indigenous varieties which are drought and disease resistant and contribute to healthier diets.

The production of organic food should be encouraged - in particular through more affordable certification processes -  and intensive animal production discouraged, with a view to improve diets, reduce Green House Gas emissions, water use and contamination, and manage local biodiversity. Education in locally-relevant agricultural practices which increase carbon sequestration, reduce GHG emissions, improve productivity and produce healthy foods in season should be a priority

Local institutions, producers and civil society must be jointly engaged in and responsible for the management of water resources and protection and conservation of environmental services (forests and aquatic ecosystems).  Efforts should be made to substitute wood and fossil fuels, and renewable sources such as solar and bio energy be used to produce, process and prepare foods and reduce waste.

Priority should be given to reviving local and regional agricultural markets. Markets are where consumers come and buy food from producers they know and trust, but are also essential to social exchanges, community cohesion and local culture.

Processors and retailers should be encouraged to align their practices with public health and environmental goals. Trade policies and subsidies all along the food chain (from production to distribution) should be revisited and accountability of corporations to sustainability and human rights ensured.

And last but not least, consumers have a key role to play in the issues of climate change, food security and nutrition. Awareness-raising and training of local institutions will be key for the promotion of sustainable diets which are healthy and safe, but also compatible with sustainable environmental management and social equity and decent jobs.

It is essential that food security remains on the agenda of COP21 and that relevant recommendations of the 2nd International conference of Nutrition be integrated. 

Crop diversification, knowledge based rural enterprise will enhance food security systems' viability among small farmers.We have done some studies where incorporation of aromatic plants and aromatic plants based agro-enterprises alongside food crops have helped livelihoods, economic gains and environment.

Thank you.


E.V.S.Prakasa Rao



Buenos días, cortésmente le informo que le estoy enviando un breve aporte a la discusión Cambio climático, seguridad alimentaria y nutrición. Este aporte esta titulado ¨El Cambio Climático y La Pobreza¨.

Esperando que sea de edificación a la comunidad.

Moises Rojas


Las estimaciones mundiales más recientes de las tendencias de las emisiones de los bosques, muestran que las emisiones totales se redujeron en más del 25% durante el periodo 2001-2015. Los datos de la FAO muestran que la disminución global se debe a una disminución significativa en las tasas de deforestación a nivel mundial, mientras que las emisiones de la degradación de los bosques, estimadas hoy por la FAO por primera vez, por el contrario están aumentando con el tiempo y representan un cuarto de las emisiones netas provenientes de los bosques. Las emisiones de globales de carbono derivada de la desforestación y de la degradación forestal apuntan a un 25% en las emisiones procedentes de la desforestación es decir  es decir, 3,9 a 2,9 Gt de CO2 eq por año, según estimaciones de la FAO.

En República Dominicana los efectos del cambio climático en las estaciones de lluvia han provocado un cambio de patrones durante todo el año. También los periodos de sequía han cambiado, con estimaciones de que su impacto será mayor en las próximas décadas, debido al fenómeno.

En algunas regiones del país se registran descompensaciones importantes entre recursos naturales, población y necesidades básicas. Las desproporciones son más marcadas y notorias en regiones áridas, semiáridas y subhúmedas. Las regiones áridas y semiáridas comprenden el 18 % de la superficie del país y están caracterizadas por un balance hídrico negativo casi todo el año.

Como consecuencia del cambio climático, los eventos extremos se tornan más violentos, tanto en la intensidad de las sequías como las grandes precipitaciones. Es previsible que el escenario más pesimista, en cuanto a la disponibilidad futura de recursos hídricos lleve como contraparte una disminución significativa del impacto de huracanes en la geografía nacional.

Nuestra economía depende de los recursos naturales y de estos el turismo y el agua, importante aportadores de riqueza al PIB, son afectados por el cambio climático. Así el suministro de energía es una piedra angular para el país, con un gran potencial no sólo para la mitigación de gases de efecto invernadero, sino también para el ahorro de gastos.

El gobierno ha realizado varios estudios tomando en consideración que estos sectores son estratégicos en el desarrollo económico del país y poder lograr un desarrollo sostenido. Esta iniciativa busca fortalecer las capacidades nacionales sobre planificación sectorial en el ámbito del cambio climático, y mejorar la coordinación de las propuestas de políticas para enfrentarlo.

Cambio Climático y su Impacto Seguridad Alimentaria Republica Dominicana

La Republica Dominicana presenta una diversidad bioclimáticas y topográficas que van desde seca (450/mm/año) ha humedad (2,500mm/año) que conforma una amplia gama de ecosistema y hábitat, que incluyen tierras y aguas bajo el nivel del mar. Cinco ríos aportan 1,962 millones de metros cúbicos de agua a los lagos de 18 presas que suplen para los sostenimientos de la agricultura, la producción de energía y el consumo humano. El 27% de los bosques están en concentrados en áreas protegidas las cuales producen el 28% de la producción pesquera. Son fuentes de bienes productivos como alimentos, medicinas y materiales de construcción. Son reguladores de los procesos naturales y de los procesos naturales y de los sistemas que dan soporte a la vida; secuestro de carbono, formación de suelo y purificador de agua.

Al aumentar la temperatura por el cambio climático y la temperatura de los mares sique en aumento esto afectara los ecosistemas, los corales se irán muriendo, el nivel del mar ira en aumento, la isla se sumerge, la sequia ira avanzado y los incendios se multiplicaran. Se incrementara el poder e intensidad de los huracanes y se presentaran temporales fuertes e inundaciones más crecientes. Se reduce el potencial productivo de los suelos, los bosques, las costas y los mares. Y al final se afecta la seguridad alimentaria reduciéndose la reserva de los alimentos. El cambio climático seguirá reduciendo el acceso al agua potable, afectará negativamente a la salud de los pobres y planteará una auténtica amenaza a la seguridad alimentaria en muchos países de África, Asia y América Latina. En algunas zonas en que las posibilidades de sustentos son limitadas, la reducción del rendimiento de la cosecha amenaza con provocar hambre y la migración puede ser la única solución ante la erosión de las zonas costeras. Los costos de macroeconómicos del impacto del cambio climático son sumamente inciertos, pero es posible que puedan poner en peligro el desarrollo de muchos países.

Prácticas e Inversiones para Enfrentar Cambio Climático

Como apuntaba anteriormente, los sectores turismo, agua y energía son afectados por el cambio climático lo cuales producirán aumento en la temperatura, elevaciones del nivel del mar, prolongaciones de los periodos de sequia, y aumento e intensidad de los huracanes tropicales. Para adaptar a los sectores de turismo y agua a los impactos del cambio climático serán necesarios una inversión de US$4,451 millones y para mitigar las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero en sector energía supondrán un ahorro de US$7,102 millones. La Evaluación de los flujos de inversión y financiamiento (FI&F), componente del Proyecto Global del PNUD “Fortalecimiento de las capacidades de los encargados de la formulación de políticas para hacer frente al cambio climático”, busca fortalecer las capacidades nacionales sobre planificación sectorial en el ámbito del cambio climático, y mejorar la coordinación de las propuestas de políticas para enfrentarlo.

Se ha creado un Comité interinstitucional de trabajo, que abarca a los tres sectores a analizar, con representantes técnicos de alto nivel de los principales ministerios, academia y sector privado involucrados en cada sector a decir: Turismo, Agua y Energía.

El objectivo de la evaluación de flujo es determinar los FI&F necesarios para abordar el cambio climático. La evaluación se basa en estudios, planes y estrategias elaborados por el Gobierno del República Dominicana para responder a las necesidades «Desde una perspectiva de desarrollo. Para cada sector se desarrolló un escenario de línea base y un escenario de adaptación/ mitigación para determinar los flujos de inversión (FI) y financieros (FF) así como los costes de operación y mantenimiento (O&M). Los valores se dan en dólares EEUU constantes de 2005 (1US$ = 38.8DOP). Las entidades de inversión analizados son: los hogares, las empresas (privadas y ONGs), así como el gobierno (fondos públicos). Para la mitigación en el sector Energía, se consideraron 2 subsectores: Eléctrico, que constituye una parte importante de la energía consumida - y Transporte, que representa el 31% del consumo de energía. Durante el período 2006-2030, habrá un ahorro de US$ 7102,3 millones.

Las principales medidas seleccionadas fueron:

Por el subsector Eléctrico, las medidas de mitigación seleccionadas se dividen en 2 líneas de acción: Introducción de nuevas capacidades de energía renovable y de energía térmica con características de mayor eficiencia; uso de combustibles menos intensivos en carbono –lo que conllevará a una reducción de 114 millones de toneladas de CO2, con una inversión de US$ 5820,4 millones, y un ahorro en los costos de operación y mantenimiento de US$ 16117,5 millones (equivalente a un ahorro neto de US$ 10297.1 millones);

Por el subsector Transporte, hay 2 líneas de acción propuestas: Introducción de mezcla de combustible y potenciación de la penetración de combustibles menos carbono intensivo –lo que conllevará una reducción de 6 millones de toneladas de CO2 e inversiones de US$ 8851,6 millones, que alcanzará un total ahorro de US$ 5656,8 millones en los costos de operación y mantenimiento (US$ 3194.8 millones).

Para el sector Agua, Durante el período 2011-2030, el sector deberá invertir aprox. US$ 2792,52 millones.

Las principales medidas seleccionadas fueron:

Agua potable y saneamiento: Revertir la pérdida de calidad de los cuerpos de agua dominicanos, elevando la cobertura de tratamiento de aguas residuales de origen doméstico, industrial y agropecuario; establecer un sistema tarifario basado en la gestión de la demanda de agua (US$ 1296,86 millones);

Gestión integrada del agua y riego: gestión integrada de los recursos hídricos, bajo el paradigma de gestión de la demanda de usos múltiples (US$ 1005,11 millones); y Gestión ambiental: Protección y conservación de los servicios ambientales de los bosques y de los ecosistemas acuáticos con un enfoque ecosistémico (US$ 490,55 millones).

Para el sector Turismo Durante el período 2007-2030, el sector deberá invertir en las medidas un estimado de US$1658,5 millones. Las principales medidas seleccionadas fueron: Infraestructura y técnicas de protección del recurso costero, medidas institucionales y sistema de incentivos para fomentar la mejora del sector, investigación y sensibilización social, fomento de la gestión sostenible y manejo de riesgos (US$ 1658,5 millones).

Las implicaciones de las políticas para la reducción de las emisiones de CO2. Para el sector energía: hay la posibilidad de utilizar los beneficios de la reducción de emisiones asociadas para la atracción y canalización de recursos financieros, que contribuyan su aplicación. Identificar y reducir las barreras que existe entre el sector privado y público. El fortalecimiento e integración coordinada de instancias/mecanismos de coordinación en materia de mitigación y la concretización de proyectos e iniciativas ya en marcha. Para el sector Agua las implicaciones serán: un esfuerzo de concertación es necesario entre los actores institucionales, el sector productivo y la sociedad civil. La reforma del marco legal e institucional para la gestión del agua tiene que implementarse. Para la implementación del sistema tarifario, la sociedad tiene que ser involucrada y debe percibir que dichas reformas están orientadas a la gestión sostenible de los recursos hídricos. Para el sector Turismo: implementar el Plan de Ordenamiento Territorial consensuado. Fortalecer y aplicar las regulaciones ambientales, incluyendo la Evaluación Ambiental. Diversificar productos y mercados: Potencializar los segmentos de turísticos alternativos al turismo de playa: gastronómico, deportivo, cultural, salud. Promover fomento de las capacidades y programas de educación incorporando la variable ambiental y la adaptación al cambio climático. 

I would like to make a general comment:

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology are doing good work in the UK and are proposing different ideas to those being put forward by the UK Government, namely the Agri-tech Strategy, which is not without its critics.

Good work is also being done by The Campaign for Real Farming and by various organisations proposing an Alternative Trade Mandate:

Many are hoping there will be a change in direction by Government and "establishment science".

I would like the forum to be aware that a challenge has been made to the UK's Royal Society:

Getting the right messages across to everyone

I can remember my Regional Agricultural Officer once rounding on me at a monthly staff meeting with the comment: ‘It’s better to have contaminated food than none at all’, when I had drawn attention to the iniquities of our current recommendations at that time for use of DDT in vegetable gardens. Nutrition and climate change has similar contradictions – concern for the former becomes lost in the urgency to take account of the latter. Simply producing sufficient food irrespective of quality may come to dominate – and our descendents may be eating foods from a mix of traditional, non-traditional and synthetic biological systems.


This has been an excellent debate with participants criss-crossing the spectrum of issues that for me, at least, has emphasized the overwhelming complexity of the many challenges involved when linking nutrition and climate change. It makes the debate difficult to focus. Where to start? How to make a contribution that has not already been covered? How to encourage the FSN network of enthusiastic people to continue to develop and share information, send messages and highlight the dramatic risks involved by downgrading – side-lining even – the projected impacts of climate change (and this long after the debate has concluded).

Not so much ‘nutrition’ then – and here you can sympathize with Team Leader Florence Egal the lack of focus of which she complains – but lower quality foods, lack of food, reduced agricultural production, insufficient natural resources and more that could arise as ambient global temperatures shift above 2degC during the latter part of the 21st century. Issues of this kind have been gaining momentum and have been described by the IPPC (2013) and others for the risks involved with our current ‘business as usual’ approach to socio-economic development just about everywhere.

Greenhouse gas emissions

These include recognition that current levels of atmospheric CO2, CH4 & N2O are the highest they have been for almost a million years. Think about that. We occupy a planet that is 4.5 billion years old, the modern version of our species has been around for just 200,000 years (but with ancestry dating back another six million years) and we seem to have blown it in little more than 250 years as our species has multiplied, occupied the entire planet and then, as a society, ‘industrialized’ in unsustainable manner.

We need to hold cumulative atmospheric CO2 emissions to around 1,000 Gt with which to manage that 2decC rise. It seems increasingly unlikely that this will be achieved, and that temperature rises may be twice this target, with the movement of regional climates, the instability of weather patterns including extreme events that will follow and, for best, rises in average sea-levels that have been estimated at 600 mm. Seas cover two-thirds of the surface of the planet and they are a natural sink for surplus GHGs but, the downside, this increases levels of marine acidity. Further, estimated 40% of the world’s people live within 100 km of the coast.

The main culprit is geological carbon released from the fossil fuels that once lay deep beneath the surface of the planet – originally separate from atmospheric carbon cycles, but currently widely exploited for the ease with which energy can be extracted and used, thereby releasing stored carbon as a by-product of combustion. Of the order 6 Bt of carbon continue to be released each year and this is changing our climate. On human scale, this kind of change will be irreversible.

What to do about it?

The solution is a relatively easy one to suggest – leave the remaining unexploited fossil fuels in the ground and shift to alternative energy resources. However this is, as everyone knows, easier-said-than-done. It will simply not take place fast enough given the entrenched position of these fuels in international energy models, and given the power of those who own and exploit them within world commerce.

Lower quality foods

Projections for the quality of foods that will be grown as CO2 levels in the atmosphere rise are typically based upon a scale of parts per million (ppm); from 250 ppm before the industrialization of human society to around 400 ppm today (a staggering 60% increase in a little over 250 years) and projected levels of around 570 ppm by 2050 (and this with serious effort to curb emissions by governments, starting now). R&D with popular staples such as rice, wheat, maize, etc. shows diminished levels of essential nutrients such as iron, zinc and others, and reduced protein content – the quality of foods suffer.

Boosting food intake to compensate for is an obvious approach, but with food production required to double to meet increased populations estimated at 9-10 billion before stabilization, and greater demands for higher value foods – dairy foods, meats, fish and similar – as a function of higher economic growth, the reality of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ is likely to become more, not less, pronounced. As-of-now there is already around one billion food insecure people worldwide.


Having set the scene, as-it-were, my contribution to the debate is concerned with ‘Messages for people who are not aware of the implications of climate change - what can you do?’

You only have to explore the language of ‘climate change’, to look around you at the lack of concern by the man and woman in the street (as-it-were) and the limited cooperation that is underway between the various countries and blocs that are talking about change mitigation[1]. Leave aside the iniquities of blame, economic growth linked to levels of emissions (and those responsible today and historically) and, importantly, the ‘catch-up’ requirements of the industrializing countries. Consider instead the messages that should be promoted, shared and taken up by everyone.

I have recently been exploring ‘value chains’ in the countries of NW East Africa – resource poor communities, rural densities >450/km2, income levels

Project planning has been reasonable, a budget estimated at US$8M was well-spent during an investment period of more than five years and the development and intermediate objectives were largely met. At no time, however, was there reference to climate change and the practices required for security of production into the future; markets dominated thinking – not climate. What resources did the central governments of the recipient countries have available to boost their awareness of climate issues – who knows? These were not included within the public services described and/or available.

The point being that no effort was made to include ‘climate change/mitigation’ where issues of agronomy, economic performance, crop/livestock care, transport and more took priority. And why not? National planning rarely has a 50 year cycle; a rolling five year plan is more typical where poverty, employment, livelihoods and similar remain the main focus of national development objectives.

And not just the low income countries. In my country things are much the same. Like most other people, I continue to drive my petrol/diesel powered car, eat preferred foods irrespective of conversion ratios, live in a house that leaks heat energy, and give little thought to my personal carbon footprint. I am aware that this is probably around 15 tCO2e annually of which 60% comes down to personal choice – housing, travel, food, non-food products and services. I am also aware that I pay little more than lip-service to reducing my footprint. (And, in fact, this year I have already blown things by flying from Melbourne to Rome). That smallholder in East Africa to whom I referred earlier – living with few modern resources – will probably already have a footprint of 1 tCO2e or less – the level required for everyone on Planet Earth to provide the basis for atmospheric GHGs to stabilize.

The bottom line, however, is a requirement for government imposed guidelines that eventually become taken up such that they become the norm for everyone. This means, in reality, those of us in the industrial and industrializing countries – the rich people; it means changes to current lifestyles, foods, services and more. And not just governments either for that is a ‘pass-the-buck factor’; we all have personal responsibilities to make a difference.

Failure to make it happen will bring changes that are hard to envisage; your children’s children will eventually reap the ineptitude, indecision and challenges of the current day in their unpredictable world of 2100.

Peter Steele


16 April 2015

[1]Impact of climate change ... adaptation’. Explore the Power Point information provided by FAO/Kanamaru to appreciate the complexity of these messages. First interpret the pictures and words, put them into plain language, and provide them to every man/woman everywhere. Better still promote messages in classrooms worldwide. Collectively, our generation may already be too entrenched to make a difference.


Peter Carter

Climate Emergency Institute (international)

Climate Change, Food Security and Nutrition FAO April 2015

Dr Peter Carter BC Canada

Dear facilitator and FAO , please accept this submission with respect climate change food security and nutrition. There is nothing more important for all the world as this particular issue.

I include some content from my recent presentation for the Seventh International Conference on Climate Change Impacts and Responses Conference 10 April 2015.

I have posted my full response with images and figures at the following site.


We are in an already committed global climate change world  food security emergency situation.

This is clear when we connect the science of already committed global climate change and the science of impacts of global climate change on crop yields, and this requires immediate measures for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Please note that the IPCC does not make conclusions on dangerous interference with the climate system.


I strongly recommend that the FAO issue a statement in support of the IPCC AR5 best case emissions scenario RCP 2.6 with respect to world food security , and that the FAO conduct an environmental health risk assessment of the up-to-date research on committed global climate change and world food security.

Please note that the IPCC does not make recommendations, and while it provides information on risk and a great deal of information for the performance of a risk assessment, the IPCC assessment is not itself a risk assessment.

This world food security emergency is clear when we connect the science of already committed global climate change and the science of impacts of global climate change on crop yields, requiring immediate measures for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Climate change commitment

This emergency food security situation is made necessarily far worse by the grossly inadequate response of climate change policy- which is the greatest ever policy failure. This policy failure commitment presently endangers billions of people alive today and  all future generations.

Policy commitment

The most up-to-date calculation of the combined national United Nations pledges on emissions is from Climate Action Tracker (approved by climate change experts).

‘Limiting warming to the globally agreed goal of holding warming below a 2°C increase above pre-industrial in the 21st century means that the emissions of greenhouse gases need to be reduced rapidly in the coming years and decades. The unconditional pledges or promises that governments have made, as of early 2015, would limit warming to 2.9 to 3.1°C above pre-industrial levels’. (Climate Action Tracker 2014)

This policy commitment, however, is considerably higher than 3°C because this is only a realized warming by 2100. The full committed equilibrium warming long after 2100 will be another 75% (IPCC AR5  “For the RCP4.5 and RCP6.0 extension scenarios with early stabilization, it is about 75% at the time of forcing stabilization” (IPCC 2013, WG1, Ch 12 , p. 1103), making the full equilibrium commitment 5°C or more.

There is not the slightest indication that the December 2015 United Nations Paris Conference of the Parties (COP21) will change this situation.


Climate system science commitment

Today’s global surface temperature increase of 0.8°C is already absolutely committed (or locked in) to increase to 1.5°C by 2030-2040, according to the IPCC AR5, “The era of committed global climate change 1.5°C  2030 to 2040,” (IPCC 2014, WG2 Figure 11.6). Most significantly this particular IPCC AR5 reference is linked to a great resulting increase in under-nutrition.

Certainly without a rapid emergency world emissions response, our longer term commitment due to the present extremely high concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases, according to the IPCC AR5, is 2° C. (IPCC, AR5, WG 1,  12. 5. 2 ).

Extreme weather events

The most damaging single category of climate change impacts to both human population health and crops is Extreme weather events. In most of the world where food production is labour intensive, human health impacts of climate change and the crop yield impacts combine to reduce crop productivity even more.


We are already experiencing climate change on food security, including some episodic regional disastrous impacts on food productivity -and we are committed to a much higher degree of global climate change than we already have today causing these impacts. Such disastrous climate change-driven impacts, such as extreme weather events, which are already occurring on all continents, are committed to greatly increase.

‘Impacts from recent climate-related extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones, and wildfires, reveal significant vulnerability and exposure of some ecosystems and many human systems to current climate variability (very high confidence). Impacts of such climate-related extremes include, …disruption of food production and water supply …’ (The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2014, , Climate Synthesis Report , Longer report, p. 16)


The IPCC (2013-2014) AR5 changed everything that has been reported before on food security. While it has for long been known that the tropical regions would be the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change on their crop yields (with very small degrees of climate change causing declining crop yields), previous assessments assumed that the temperate northern hemisphere, at least by 2100, was not vulnerable and might even gain by some crop yield increase. Recent research has found that this is not, and is not going to be, the case. Climate change is already having negative effects on most, if not all. major food-producing regions.

‘Assessment of many studies covering a wide range of regions and crops shows that negative impacts of climate change on crop yields have been more common than positive impacts (high confidence). The smaller number of studies showing positive impacts relate mainly to high-latitude regions, though it is not yet clear whether the balance of impacts has been negative or positive in these regions.’ (The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2014, Working Group 2,  Impacts Adaptation and Vulnerability, Chapter 11, Figure 11.6)

It is therefore not surprising that the IPCC Working Group 2 scientists projected that all major crops in all major food-producing regions would be affected negatively above a local and global (they are the same at 1.0°C from 1850) temperature increase of 1°C.Without adaptation, local temperature increases in excess of about 1oC above pre-industrial is projected tohave negative effects on yields for the major crops (wheat, rice and maize) in both tropical and temperate regions  With or without adaptation, negative impacts on average yields become likely from the 2030s with median yield impacts of 0 to -2% per decade projected for the rest of the century , and after 2050 the risk of more severe impacts increases. These impacts will occur in the context of rising crop demand, which is projected to increase by about 14% per decade until 2050. (IPCC, AR5, Working Group 2, Final draft, p. 3).

This is shown in the IPCC WG2 2014 graphs of crop projections, in which the assumed benefits (with one adverse exception) of climate change adaptation should be ignored.


For food security and environmental health risk from climate change taking the mean of the wide range of results (as AR5) of the crop model projections is not valid- worst-case scenarios must be used. Assuming adaptation benefit (As AR5 does) is invalid, especially in this case when the world climate is now in an unprecedented no-analog state, and the crop models do not capture a number of very adverse effects.

For food security and risk it is essential to bear in mind that the IPCC AR5 crop models still do capture  a number of large adverse effects. These projections will certainly not be over-estimates with regard to crop yield declines. It would be assumed for risk,  that they will increasingly be under-estimates, as global warming, climate change, tropospheric ozone concentration and extreme weather events increase.

‘More difficult to quantify with models is the impact of very extreme events on cropping systems, since by definition these occur very rarely and models cannot be adequately calibrated and tested’ (IPCC AR5 WG2 TS p. 6). ‘The robustness of crop model results depends on data quality, model skill prediction and model complexity.  Modelling and experiments are each subject to their own uncertainties. Measurement uncertainty is a feature of field and controlled environment experiments. For example, interactions between CO2 fertilisation, temperature, soil nutrients, ozone, pests and weeds is not well understood and therefore most crop models do not include all these effects’ (IPCC AR5 WG2 TS p.11). ‘The rarity of long-term studies of plant diseases and pests is a problem for the evaluation of climate change effects’. (IPCC AR5 WG2 TS p.15).

It is therefore vital that important international agencies like the FAO urgently review plans and policies with respect to climate change and food security.

 The fact is our only option to avoid committing (condemning)  the future to a world food security catastrophe is a rapid reduction of emissions for mitigation. The 2007 IPCC AR4 made it clear that to avoid a warming of 2 to 2.4° C, emissions ‘must have reversed by 2015 at the latest’. The only emissions scenario of the IPCC AR5 that does not lead to a surface warming above 2° C by 2100 is the best case emissions scenario RCP 2.6. This scenario requires emissions to stop increasing right away and to be in decline from 2020. It is still just  possible to achieve this. But this scenario is not on the agenda or any documents of the UNFCCC for the 2015 Paris climate conference negotiations.

‘RCP2.6 is a scenario that aims to keep global warming below 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures’ (IPCC 2014, WG3, SPM. 2.1).

The world is in a desperate emergency situation with respect to climate change and food security. In this unprecedented situation, threatening billions of people today and the future of humanity,  the relevant and involved United Nations Departments are obligated to explain the emergency and certainly to simply (while most significantly) recommend the IPCC AR5 best case emissions scenario RCP 2.6.

In conclusion I appeal to the FAO to at least publish a statement in support of the IPCC AR5 best case emissions scenario RCP 2.6.




Peter Carter                     BC Canada


I guess many point of views were already shared. So far programs and policies should take into account that subsistence and smallholder farming are the key factor in securing food and nutrition world wide.

Best practices to mitigate and adapt to climate change would be agroforestry systems including commodoties reducing impacts on natural resources, diversifying value chaines and providing food for domestic use and if possible for local consumption. Agroforestry systems would increase protection of soils prone to loss and secure water cycles in contradiction to large scale vulnerable monocultures.

Farmer associations could be an option to increase output and generate "market power" for farmers and their single commodoties. This could increase their commercial visibility and match needs of the market. Also options for subsistence are left open. I attached an briefing note of an example, where I was also involved.

Communities of practice, associations, education and research should target also smallholders.




Many thanks for the invitation and opportunity to input into this useful consultation. Please find attached my submission on behalf of Compassion in World Farming. There are five main points to this document:

1. Grain-based intensive animal agriculture can exacerbate food insecurity, poor human nutrition, greenhosue gas emissions and vulnerability to price schocks and other shocks from climate change. It also negtively impacts biodiversity, water shortages, pollution, livelihoods, food soverignty and reduces the resource base available to humans. 

2. Extensive, land-based integrated farming, combined with a reduction in over-consumption of meat, food waste and losses, can offer great benefits to food security, nutrition, climate mitigation and adaptation, as well as bringing other benefits to people, the planet and farm animal welfare.

3. Production increases alone will not be sufficient to deliver food security, nutrition, mitigation and adaptation. Avoiding over-consumption of meat; addressing poverty and other factors must all play a part.

4. Research shows that current methodologies (such as Life-cycle Analysis) and commonly used metrics (such as water footprint rather than water use impacts) do not apply well to livestock agriculture. Other methodologies, such as Impact Assessment are needed to avoid unintended negative outcomes.

5. Food Security, nutrition and climate change mitigation and adaptation are all important, and sit within a wider network of interlocking issues and agendas, such as livelihoods, animal welfare, biodiversity, food soverignty, water and soil conservation, and so on. Developing, designing and implementing food systems for the future can be better optimised across a wider range of agendas and needs of people, the planet and farm animals, if each of these agendas is considered. Thus, farming which is all-agenda-smart (rather than just climate-smart) may be possible and preferable. Stakeholder-dialogue based planning for farming may be a useful approach to achieving optimal farming systems for a given region. Agro-ecology with the needs of humans and animals built in may provide a suitable farming model to work from.

Please do contact me if you require any further details.

Many thanks and best wishes for this work,

Emily Lewis-Brown, April 17th, 2015

On behalf of Compassion in World farming.


Let us begin by admitting that we (world citizens) have collectively been extremely sluggish, casual, irresponsible in acknowledging the serious nature of the implications of climate change for us as well as for the planet. Doing too little too late; countries and their leaders still consider economic indicators as an universal remedy for wellbeing, progress, advancement, development.

Currently India, in particular, is riding on a seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of economic gratification at the cost of everything else. Only time will tell how this will play out in short, medium and long term repercussions and damage; benefits and advantages.

Global statistics in all key areas from energy to economics to ecology to human wellbeing don’t portray a pleasant picture from any angle such that one may at the end of the day rest well; look forward to a pleasant morrow.

If at all, one may find a few answers to the woes of our times in:

  • Redefining the smallest social unit to be a community/ neighbourhood rather than a family by which definition we continue while dealing with matters of policy and practice.
  • Rebuilding community for self reliance, self sufficiency, self governance
  • Adopting an ecosystem approach in all spheres of human activity
  • Creating systems that ensure our primary source of energy is the Sun and the photosynthetic process; and renewables.
  • Abandon wasteful expenditure on territorial defense  
  • Work towards Global fellowship.
  • Rebuild the soil, recreate forests, revisit indigenous wisdom, restore biodiversity, rejuvenate water bodies, clean up the air.
  • Think and live human scale.
  • Adopt an integrated approach in dealing with all issues.

If localized efforts  are initiated in one or more of these areas, we may collectively  hope for a relatively smooth transition through these challenging times.

I am well aware that this may all seem far fetched and out of context at first reading. The world having run out of ideas (obvious from what we have brought upon ourselves), there is only scope for dreaming left.