Already facing food shortages and an escalating hunger crisis, millions of people around the world are facing a new problem: soaring prices and a shortage of vegetable oils used in everyday cooking.

In recent months, we have seen:

Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine has reduced the country’s huge agricultural exports, including sunflower oil.

Cooking oil is something almost all of us use to feed our families every day, and many of us take it for granted. But compared to the ever-rising costs of my local grocery store, these people are far less reliable than me in terms of access to nutritious food with serious consequences for countless people.

Shortages are likely to have a knock-on effect of sticker shocks across the food economy – and as a result, more hungry people worldwide. This is especially true in developing regions, where a large portion of household spending goes to palm oil and other common staples.

The world faces a series of challenges that have led to this moment, but climate change is at the top of the list because it will only get worse – unless we act now.

For example, corn production will decline over the next three years in many parts of the world. By 2050, more than half of the world’s population will be living in areas that experience water scarcity for at least one month of the year.

3 ways nature can help solve the food crisis

We don’t have to accept that this is our destiny. In fact, By supporting our food producers to transition now to regenerative agriculture – farming in harmony with nature – we can create an upsurge in climate action that makes nutritious food accessible to all and more stable communities.

Here are three steps:

  1. By making the systems that produce crops more resilient, including expanding the range of crops we grow and where we grow them, while limiting the risk of crop failure around the world. Think of it like the stock market: a more diversified portfolio is better able to handle external shocks. But farmers will need strong support from government, industry and civil society.
  2. Invest in new sources of edible oils, such as those produced from yeast and algae, which may have a much lower environmental impact than existing oils on the market today.
  3. Unlock the full potential of blue food – fish and other marine foods. This includes increasing sustainable seafood aquaculture (also known as fish farming) and improving fisheries management for wild-caught fish. Taken together, these upgrades will provide reliable, healthy food for the 3 billion people around the world who already depend on protein from the ocean and increase access to protein and nutrients for others.

We need swift climate action now

The world’s food producers are on the front lines of climate change, which has prompted them to change their practices to help solve the problem and adapt. Of course, climate leadership also requires a shift from fossil fuels to clean energy sources like wind and solar.

Only by addressing the climate crisis can we truly stop the destruction of ecosystems and the general warming of the planet, which is increasingly at the heart of today’s food shortage and hunger crises.

We live in an interconnected world, especially when it comes to food production. Climate change in Southeast Asia could starve households in the Middle East, just as wars in Eastern Europe could lead to a rise in global bread prices — out of household budgets from Calcutta to Cleveland.

Climate change is looming as the ultimate accelerator for our global food challenge and worsening hunger crisis – unless we act quickly today to embrace regenerative agriculture and help ensure a vital planet for everyone.

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