The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018: Building Climate Resilience for Food Security and Nutrition
Progress, although limited in magnitude and pace, has been made in reducing child stunting and increasing exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Nonetheless, while the prevalence of overweight in children under five years may not have changed significantly in recent years, adult obesity continues to rise and one in three women of reproductive age in the world is anaemic.
Children with low weight-for-height (wasting) have an increased risk of mortality. In 2017, 7.5 percent of children under five were affected by this form of undernutrition, with regional prevalences ranging from 1.3 percent in Latin America to 9.7 percent in Asia.
Multiple forms of malnutrition are evident in many countries. Poor access to food and particularly healthy food contributes to undernutrition as well as overweight and obesity. It increases the risk of low birthweight, childhood stunting and anaemia in women of reproductive age, and it is linked to overweight in school-age girls and obesity among women, countries. The higher cost of nutritious foods, the stress of living with food insecurity and physiological adaptations to food restriction help explain why food insecure families have a higher risk of overweight and obesity. Additionally, maternal and infant/child food deprivation can result in foetal and early childhood “metabolic imprinting”, which increases the risk of obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases later in life.
Having thoroughly investigated the role of conflict last year, the focus in 2018 is on the role of climate – more specifically, climate variability and extremes. Climate variability and extremes are a key driver behind the recent rises in global hunger and one of the leading causes of severe food crises. The changing nature of climate variability and extremes is negatively affecting all dimensions of food security (food availability, access, utilization and stability), as well as reinforcing other underlying causes of malnutrition related to child care and feeding, health services and environmental health. The risk of food insecurity and malnutrition is greater nowadays because livelihoods and livelihood assets – especially of the poor – are more exposed and vulnerable to changing climate variability and extremes. What can be done to prevent this threat from eroding the gains made in ending hunger and malnutrition in recent years?
This report launches an urgent appeal to accelerate and scale up actions to strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity in the face of changing climate variability and increasing extremes. National and local governments are facing challenges in trying to determine measures to prevent risk and address the effects of these stressors. They can be guided by existing global policy platforms and processes whereby climate resilience is an important element: climate change (governed by the UNFCCC and the 2015 Paris Agreement); disaster risk reduction (the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction); humanitarian emergency response (the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit and the Grand Bargain); improved nutrition and healthy diets (the Second International Conference on Nutrition and the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016–2025); and development (as part of the overarching 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development). However, it is important to ensure better integration of these global policy platforms and processes to ensure that actions across and within sectors such as environment, food, agriculture and health pursue coherent objectives. The success of policies, programmes and practices that national and local governments implement to address these challenges will also depend on cross-cutting factors, as well as specific tools and mechanisms that are adaptable to specific contexts.
Part 1 of this report presents the most recent trends in hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms with a focus on monitoring progress on SDG Targets 2.1 and 2.2. This year the report also provides a deeper exploration of the indicator of wasting among children under five years of age. The last section of Part 1 aims to build the bridge between the first two sections by exploring the links between food insecurity and various forms of malnutrition. The current state of knowledge is presented on the pathways through which poor access to food can contribute simultaneously to undernutrition as
well as overweight and obesity, resulting in the coexistence of multiple forms of malnutrition at the country level and even within the same households.
Part 2 closely scrutinizes the extent to which climate variability and extremes are undermining progress in the areas of food security and nutrition through different channels. The analysis ultimately points to guidance on how the key challenges brought about by climate variability and extremes can be overcome if we are to achieve the goals of ending hunger and malnutrition in all forms by 2030 (SDG Targets 2.1 and 2.2) as well as other related SDGs, including taking action to combat climate change and its impacts (SDG13).