Our changing climate is one of the most significant dangers facing humanity. Drought, flood, changing rains and other environmental challenges are having a huge impact on food security worldwide. Here, we explore why it should be a key issue for all charities, not just environmental ones.
What is the effect of climate change on food security?
The threat that climate change poses to our ability to produce enough food has become one of our era’s most pressing concerns. Recently, President Obama used his first major post-presidential engagement to directly address the issue. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), over 20 million people worldwide are at the risk of starvation. This crisis, which can be linked to rapidly shifting climates and a resulting decline in agricultural capability, is described by the UNDP as ‘the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945’. In Ethiopia alone, 5.6 million people are in need of immediate aid. The destabilising effects of climate change are not only limited to food shortages – insecurity over food resources can lead to significant political upheavals and even outright conflict. If action isn’t taken quickly, the consequences for many of the worst hit areas will be dire.
What can charities do?
There are already a range of environmental charities attempting to tackle the issue of climate change. Although their work is undoubtedly admirable and of great importance, the majority of these charities are still focused on isolating and reversing the root causes of climate change. It is becoming increasingly clear that serious action needs to be taken on the problems already caused by climate change, including decreased food security. It is vital that more charities begin to consider what they can do to help the most at-risk countries to prepare themselves against the worst case scenarios.
The UNDP suggest that the key to protecting food security is to create more ‘climate resilient’ nations. This can involve backing innovative technologies, renewable energies and agricultural projects. Charities can help by providing the hardest hit countries with the relief they need in order to be able to develop resilient infrastructures. In some cases the help charities can give is not even limited to issues of food security – by helping to ameliorate the worst effects of impacts such as war and famine, charities can buy these countries the time to recover and reinforce themselves against further changes the climate.
Tackling climate change can seem like a daunting task, but it does not have to be impossible. There is still time for us to harness our resourcefulness and creative potential to develop new responses. Ensuring food security is one of the cornerstones of fighting back against climate change, and charities can be at the very forefront of this opportunity.