“In a future world affected by climate change, population growth is one lever that can be addressed to ameliorate the impacts of climate change, particularly in the area of food security,” write Scott Moreland and Ellen Smith in “Modeling Climate Change, Food Security, and Population
,” a recent study for MEASURE Evaluation and USAID. Moreland and Smith combine demographic changes, food needs, and economic capacity into a single aggregate model to assess how family planning and climate change might affect food security
from now until 2050. Using Ethiopia
as an example, the model finds that if access to family planning services were increased to meet existing needs, the subsequent decrease in demand for food
would reduce child malnutrition and effectively counteract a projected 25 percent shortfall in caloric availability from climate change’s impact on agriculture. Programs designed to increase access to family planning should therefore be incorporated into national adaptation and food security strategies
, they conclude. “Family planning, especially in countries with high unmet need, provides a potential solution not only for women’s reproductive health, but also for adapting to the effects of climate change.”
The Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on World Food Security recently endorsed a set of voluntary guidelines for land tenure governance in the context of food security that aims to strike a balance between encouraging productive investment and ensuring equitable and sustainable development. Population growth, climate change, and environmental degradation are putting pressure on the legal and cultural systems that govern land rights, resulting in “inadequate and insecure tenure rights” which can “increase vulnerability, hunger and poverty, and can lead to conflict and environmental degradation when competing users fight for control of these resources.” The guidelines, drawn from consultations with hundreds of people from both the private and public spheres and representing more than 130 countries, emphasize the need to safeguard access to land, fisheries, and forests – as well as the resources they provide – in a way that respects customary tenure systems, which are not always reflected in official tenure policies or records. They also emphasize strengthening the ownership rights of women and other traditionally marginalized groups in order to enhance food security and minimize the risk of instability and conflict in the future.