Impacts on food security

Food-secure societies and communities have a reliable source of affordable food, sufficient to maintain a healthy diet for all. For many millions, climate change may threaten that security.

When it comes to keeping us properly fed, climate scientists from the Met Office and food security analysts at the World Food Programme agree that some of the world's regions could benefit from climate change, while others would be seriously harmed by it. Although it's hard to predict what will happen at a local level, climate change could put millions at potential risk of food shortage.

Food security is assessed by four measurements:

Availability: the physical presence of food through domestic production, commercial imports or food aid. Indicators of changes in food availability might include crop and livestock production trends.

Access: a household's ability to acquire adequate amounts of food, through a combination of home production and stocks, purchases, gifts, borrowing and aid. Indicators of food access changes might include food price trends and market flows.

Utilisation: a household's consumption of the food it has access to and the individuals' ability to absorb and metabolise the nutrients. Indicators could include physiological development.

Stability: the condition where food is regularly and periodically available and affordable so that it contributes to nutritional security. Indicators of stability include the impact of shocks such as floods and droughts on crop production. Changes in climate and increases in some extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts, could disrupt stability in the supply of food and people's livelihoods making it more difficult for them to earn a stable income to purchase food.

Last updated: 16 December 2013

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Climate impacts on food security and nutrition Climate impacts on food security and nutrition (PDF, 2 MB)