The number of hungry people in the world is growing again, in large part due to climate change that is wreaking havoc on crop production in much of the developing world, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
Major UN agencies said in an annual report that the number of hungry people facing chronic food deprivation increased to 821 million in 2017 from 804 million in 2016, reversing recent downward trends.
South America and Africa face acute food insecurity and malnutrition.
“This message today should frighten the world,” said David Beasley, head of the World Food Programme.
Mr. Beasley, a Trump administration nominee, acknowledged that climate change and conflict were fuelling the rise in malnutrition globally. “Climate impact is real,” he added, though he demurred when asked whether the cause was man-made.
Analysis in the report found that climate variability, extreme drought and floods are already undermining production of wheat, rice and maize in tropical and temperate regions, and that the trend is expected to worsen as temperatures increase and become more extreme.
With hunger on the rise for the past three years, the report called for policies to target groups most vulnerable to malnutrition, including infants, children, adolescent girls and women. It called for greater efforts to promote policies that help communities build resilience.
Mr. Beasley said if the world is failing today with a population at 7.5 billion and with all the wealth and technology available, “wait until 30 years from now when we have 10 billion people, when people in London, in Washington, in Chicago and Paris don’t have enough to eat.” At the same time as hunger is increasing globally, rates of adult obesity are also on the rise, the report said.
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