NITI Ayog recently released the SDG India Index 2020-21, which highlights the national and state level progress on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One of the most important objectives of the SDGs is to end hunger by 2030. The report can be accessed here.
However, global hunger is inexorably on the rise. The situation is expected to get worse as climate change grips the world.
Here is the relationship between global hunger and climate change in a nutshell.
Global hunger is a growing problem. Around 690 million individuals across the world are undernourished, and 144 children suffer as a result of chronic undernourishment, according to the Global Hunger Index.
India has a significant proportion of the world’s hungry population, with 33.4 percent of children under five years old being underweight, and 34.7 percent of children in the same age range suffering from stunted growth.
Hunger is mostly caused by poverty, conflict, political instability, population growth, and food practices. But climate change also has a part to play in the rising levels of hunger. Over the last decade, increasing regional conflicts, and rising global temperatures have contributed the most to the rise of hunger.
While political instability and continuing conflict may have contributed to hunger in the worst hit nations, climate change has undeniably compounded the problems.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, South Sudan, Syria, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have nearly 80 percent of the world’s hungriest people, according to a report by the UN World Food Program.
At the same time, reports from Mali, Niger, South Sudan and Burkina Faso also identified that drought and increasing temperatures were leading to drastically lower agricultural yields.
Climate’s Vital Role
Climate change decreases the level of agricultural productivity, which has a direct impact on hunger levels globally. The rise in global temperatures affects agricultural productivity through changing climatic conditions and increasing environmental disasters.
Environmental disasters like floods, droughts, erratic rainfall, and storms can cause a significant decrease in agricultural production in food sensitive areas like Africa and Asia.
In 2018, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) called climate change the leading factor for rising global hunger. The report from the international organisation looked at extreme weather events, land degradation and desertification, water scarcity and rising sea levels that were being caused by climate change, that led to food scarcity.
A pre-print report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that 80 million more people than today could be facing drastic levels of hunger by the year 2050, reported AFP.
The Global Hunger Index also estimates that the world is not on track to hit the UN’s SDG of "zero hunger" by the proposed timeline of 2030. The report indicates that while progress has been made, much needs to be done to lift the people currently in the starvation category and to future-proof vulnerable populations against famines.
Needed: Wholesales Changes
While nations have signed and ratified international agreements like the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Deal, a greater scale of mitigatory action is required to achieve the goals set out.
Wholesale systemic changes in agricultural practices, consumer behaviour and even government support will be needed to bring about changes that can help India, and the world reach the goals set out before them.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)