Intended for healthcare professionals

Food security and health in a changing environment: Recognizing and mitigating risks

Climate change, caused by ever escalating greenhouse gas emissions, poses a direct threat to human health and survival through exposure to more frequent and severe weather events such as the extremes of heat seen in Europe and Asia in the summer 2022 and the continued drought in east Africa.

Less well appreciated and understood are the hazards caused by other human activity-driven environmental changes such as biodiversity loss and how these interact with climate change in an interconnected globalized world to create cascading and systemic risks to people and health systems.

This collection of articles, commissioned by The BMJ ahead of WISH 2022, considers two key questions. First, to what extent do we understand the relations between food systems and human health, and the risks emerging from climate change? Second, what should we do about them?

Current guidance underestimates risk of global environmental change to food security
Projections of future food security require careful interpretation because they are often based on models that include only a subset of biophysical variables and have inherent uncertainties, caution Samuel Myers and colleagues

Global environmental climate change, covid-19, and conflict threaten food security and nutrition
Sheryl Hendriks and colleagues describe the global risks and vulnerabilities associated with health, food security, and nutrition

Health sector solutions for promoting sustainable and nutritious diets
Renzo R Guinto and colleagues discuss why the health sector must embrace the planetary health approach and advocate concrete solutions for fixing the food system

The Forum Advisory Board for this report was chaired by:

  • Tim Benton, Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, UK

Sincere thanks are extended to the members of the advisory board of the WISH 2022 Forum on Climate Change, Food Security, and Health:

  • Nassar Al Khalaf, Agrico, Qatar
  • Gonzalo Castro de la Mata, Earthna Center for a Sustainable Future, Doha, Qatar
  • Jessica Fanzo, Johns Hopkins University, USA
  • Renzo Guinto, St. Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine-William H. Quasha Memorial, Philippines
  • Sheryl L Hendriks, University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Hugh Montgomery, University College London, UK
  • Sam Myers, Harvard University Center for the Environment, USA

This article is part of a series commissioned by The BMJ for the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) 2022. The BMJ commissioned, edited, and made the decisions to publish. The series, including open access fees, is funded by WISH. Richard Hurley and Paul Simpson were the lead editors for The BMJ.

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