“Researchers have estimated that $2 billion (or 120%) more must be invested annually in agricultural research and development between 2015 and 2050 to prevent the impacts of climate change from forcing 78 million people into chronic hunger”, according to a newly released study from the IFPR.
Using complex modeling of ecological, social, and economic impacts of climate change, the study has revealed some new insights into climate change adaptation costs.
By 2050, it is expected that 78 million more people will face chronic hunger in Africa and south of the Sahara because of climate change. According to our model, increasing investments in the agriculture sector can significantly reduce the number of hungry people in the world and thus more than compensate for climate change effects.
The study’s lead author, Timothy Sulser, an IFPRI Senior Scientist and lead author says that certain regions are more vulnerable than others, primarily Africa, South of the Sahara, and South Asia. It is predicted that high population growth and low income will increase rates of hunger in these regions, even without climate change. To reverse these trends, targeted investments are necessary.”
Researchers have used IFPRI’s International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT) in this study to develop a model using the most current and advanced methodologies. Moreover, agricultural production, consumption, prices, and trade are analyzed based on a climate, crop, water, and economic model on a national, regional, and global scale.
Researchers compared a variety of options, including the absence of global warming, the impact of slowing population growth and high per capita incomes, and the effects of the most severe climate changes.
Several investments related to climate change and hunger were examined for their monetary and economic impacts, results showed that investments in specific actors can play a vital role like 1) climate change impacts on crop yields can be offset by spending on agricultural research and development; 2) to offset reductions in water supply from climate change, increasing the efficiency of irrigation and water use; and 3) the promise of improving the profitability of agriculture and increasing the availability of food will be achieved through investments in rural infrastructure.
This study is more efficient because of its lagged model to estimate the impact of agricultural research and development on crop yields, these models differ from previous estimates in that they use more recent data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Cost estimates differ based on the assumptions incorporated and the mix of the three investment categories. The most cost-effective strategy for reducing hunger is to increase global investments in agricultural research and development, which would cost an extra 1.49 to 2.77 billion USD each year.
Investing in water efficiency or rural infrastructure alone could offset higher hunger levels rather than research and development. However, research and development investment of this kind must be complemented and sustained to achieve long-term results.
With all three types of investments included in a comprehensive investment package, we can improve the lives of many regardless of hunger, however, the actual costs of the investment package would climb to 21 to 30 billion USD annually.
Different Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) require different costs, which illustrates some of the implicit trade-offs. However, investment in agricultural research and development specifically will have the most impact on reducing hunger, especially in countries like Africa, south of the Sahara, and South Asia.
SDG 2: Zero Hunger investments may conflict with other goals based on current assumptions. For example, SDG 12: Promote sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Experiments have revealed that there is little improvement in water use and irrigation supply reliability from agricultural research and development investments, but they have the largest impact on hunger reductions.
There is a wide range of alternative investment scenarios and outcomes for the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It is impossible to be certain about the outcomes of projections such as these, but they give us an indication of what policymakers should be considering in the coming years to avoid global food shortages and adapt to climate change.