Hunger is on the rise again thanks in part to climate change aggravating severe weather and conflicts in the world, the United Nations reported on Friday.
Some 815 million people, or 11 percent of the world’s population, were chronically undernourished in 2016, according to the annual UN report, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World.
“The increase — 38 million more people than the previous year — is largely due to the proliferation of violent conflicts and climate-related shocks,” said the report.
It said severe weather, “in part linked to climate change”, reduced the availability of food in many countries and contributed to a rise in food insecurity.
The report “singles out conflict — increasingly compounded by climate change — as one of the key drivers behind the resurgence of hunger and many forms of malnutrition.”
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) the World Food Program (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) prepared the report.
“The concurrence of conflict and climate-related natural disasters is likely to increase with climate change, as climate change not only magnifies problems of food insecurity and nutrition, but can also contribute to a further downward spiral into conflict, protracted crisis and continued fragility,” said a joint statement by the UN agencies.
It listed nine conflict and climate related shocks associated with food crises in 2016, including in Syria and South Sudan, where over 53 million people were considered to be “food insecure.”
The heads of the UN agencies warned that without concerted action, the ambitious goal set by world governments to end hunger and prevent malnutrition by 2030 will not be reached.
The slowdown in global growth in recent years, which led to a collapse in the prices of numerous commodities, also had a negative impact on the ability of people in many countries to feed themselves, the report said.