DECEMBER 13, 2013
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About the Authors:
Andrew Jones is a public health nutritionist interested in understanding the influence of agriculture and food systems on the food security of households and the nutritional status of women, young children, and adolescents in low-income settings. He is especially interested in understanding the pathways through which macro socio-environmental trends, including climate change, urbanization and globalization, interact with food systems to impact nutrition outcomes. His research includes a strong focus on the evaluation of programs and policies that aim to improve maternal and child nutrition, especially through agriculture and food systems-based approaches. Andy currently holds the position of Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. Prior to this appointment, Andy worked as a Research Associate in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. He has also worked as a consultant for several institutions including the World Bank, the International Food Policy Research Institute, and UNICEF. He received his PhD in International Nutrition from Cornell University and holds BA degrees from the Pennsylvania State University in Geography and Film Production.
Sivan Yosef is a program manager with the International Food Policy Research Institute. She works under IFPRI’s 2020 Vision Initiative, as well as the Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division. During her time at IFPRI, she has led work on the Institute’s 2013–2018 strategy, helped organize the 2020 conference “Leveraging Agriculture for Improving Nutrition and Health” in New Delhi, and has supported the publication of numerous books and papers on food and nutrition security. Prior to joining IFPRI in 2008, she co-founded an international development organization operating in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.
The Implications of a Changing Climate on
Global Nutrition Security
Climate change is perhaps the most transformative force shaping the trajectory of global development. The changes in precipitation patterns, global temperatures, the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, and the overall viability of ecosystems that accompany climatic change are already impacting food systems and are poised to undermine progress toward achieving food and nutrition security, especially in low-income countries. We aim to identify the principal linkages between climate change and maternal and child nutrition, and to elaborate an agenda for the nutrition community that explicitly addresses the threat of climate change to nutrition security in policy and programmatic objectives. Warmer average temperatures, rainfall volatility, extreme seasonal heat and more frequent and severe droughts that are predicted to accompany climate change have the potential to impact nutrition outcomes through four principal pathways: 1) increased vulnerability of agricultural systems, 2) enhanced water stress, 3) the distribution and survival of disease vectors, and 4) the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem disruption. More frequent and powerful coastal storm surges, heavy precipitation events and associated flooding may also lead to contamination of water supplies. These intermediate impacts could have profound consequences for human nutrition, not only via threats to food security, but also through access to proper water and sanitation, and through the effect of shifts in livelihoods on the nutritional status of women and their capacity to care for children. The nature and severity of the threats are not homogenous across global regions though. In some contexts, benefits to nutrition may even accrue. However, the actions governments and civil society might take to increase the resilience and adaptive capacity of communities, and safeguard the nutrition security of vulnerable individuals, may be guided by the same set of locally-adapted principles. We present these principles as part of a typology of potential responses that include adaptation, mitigation, preparation, and coping.
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