Ethiopia agriculture donkey carrying water

Woman farmer with donkey carrying water to the fields in Ethiopia. Photo: D Mz / Pixabay

In recent years, global hunger has begun to rise, returning to levels from a decade ago. Climate change is a key driver behind these recent rises and is one of the leading causes of severe food crises. When coupled with population growth and land use change, future climate variability is predicted to have profound impacts on global food security. This paper examines future global impacts of climate variability, population, and land use change on food security to 2050, using the modeling framework FEEDME (Food Estimation and Export for Diet and Malnutrition Evaluation).

The model uses national food balance sheets (FBS) to determine mean per capita calories, hence incorporating an assumption that minimum dietary energy requirements (MDER) remain constant. To account for climate variability,  two Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) scenarios from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are used, alongside three Shared Socio-economic Pathway (SSP) scenarios incorporating land use and population change within the model.

The results indicate that SSP scenarios have a larger impact on future food insecurity, in particular because of projected changes in population. Countries with a projected decrease in population growth had higher food security, while those with a projected rapid population growth tended to experience the worst impacts on food security.

Although climate change scenarios had an effect on future crop yields, population growth appeared to be the dominant driver of change in undernourishment prevalence. Therefore, strategies to mitigate the consequences of projected population growth, including improved maternal health care, increasing equality of access to food at the national level, closing the yield gap, and changes in trade patterns, are essential to ensuring severe future food insecurity is avoided.