The 'Initiative on Climate Action and Nutrition (I-CAN)' was been launched at COP27 to address the two priorities of climate and nutrition in an integrated way and accelerate progress. Pioneered by the Government of Egypt, I-CAN has been launched in partnership with GAIN, World Health Organization, FAO, other UN agencies, and other partners. It will help foster collaboration to accelerate transformative action to address the critical nexus of climate change and nutrition.
Climate change impacts and risks are becoming increasingly complex and more difficult to manage. Simultaneously, the world is facing the complex challenges of hunger and multiple forms of malnutrition, where over 30% of the world’s population is facing micronutrient deficiency, and 828 million people are undernourished, while 676 million are obese. Malnutrition especially affects vulnerable groups including children, women, indigenous peoples, migrants and refugees. Climate change is impacting food, diets, health, social protection, and water/sanitation systems that are fundamental for good nutrition. The impact of climate change further threatens global food security and nutrition through a variety of forces. These include a predicted decline in global crop productivity, a steep increase in food prices — which will impact overall calorie consumption, as well as the nutritional quality of diets, as people shift to cheaper, less nutrient-rich foods — and changes in nutrient levels in some crops.
The bidirectional relationship between nutrition and climate change means that sustainable, resilient and healthy diets are a critical link between nutrition and climate change, a prerequisite to good nutrition and a necessary condition for addressing all forms of malnutrition, as well as a driver of sustainable development. A shift towards sustainable, climate resilient, healthy diets would help reduce health and climate change costs by up to US$ 1.3 trillion, while supporting food security in the face of climate change. However, ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition depends not only on food systems but also health, social protection, and WASH systems. Therefore, climate action positively impacting health and water and sanitation systems can also benefit nutrition, and thus sustainable development, for win-win solutions.
By addressing these two priorities in an integrated way we can accelerate progress in both. For example, healthier diets tend to be more climate friendly; preventing food loss prevents nutrient loss and unnecessary GHG emissions; climate-smart agriculture can be nutrition smart agriculture if the focus is on nutritious foods; and nutritious food sourced for school meals can come from climate-smart supply chains. Business as usual will not allow countries to realize their targets of Agenda 2030, including those of SDG 13 (Climate Action), SDG2 (End Hunger) and SDG3 (Health). Transformative policy and action is needed to deliver sustainable, resilient and healthy diets to generate multiple benefits across SDGs.