Dr. Athar Hussain, Head, CCRD represented the centre as a Panelist for the session ‘Climate Change and Nutrition’ at the National Workshop ‘Building Nutrition Resilience: Integrating Climate Change and Gender’ organized by Action Against Hunger on December 09, 2019 in Islamabad. Other panellists included Mr. Idrees Mahsud, Member, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Mr. Muhammad Riaz, Director General Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD). Ms. Sitara Ayaz, Chairperson, Standing Committee on Climate Change, chaired the session
Dr. Athar informed the audience that the increased heat and water stress in most of the Global South is expected to decrease crop yields and probability of future cultivation. He elaborated the impacts of climate change on food production, food supply chain and limited access to retailers. Dr. Athar emphasized that the climate change, food security and nutrition are interconnected and that this is the right time to discuss food security in terms of malnutrition.
He highlighted that the higher levels of CO2 decrease the level of protein, iron, and zinc from many crops, particularly wheat, rice, potatoes, soy, and peas. As approximately 4.2 billion people get 60-70% of their iron and zinc from these crops, the expected future nutritional cut will severely contribute to protein, iron, and zinc deficiencies concentrated in the Global South. Referring to a study by Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Washington, he apprised the audience with the alarming fact that the malnutrition was the highest risk factor for ‘death & disability combined’ in Pakistan.
Dr. Athar suggested that the nutrition and health stakeholders need to be engaged more in key climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives. He was of the view that the improved multi-sectoral coordination is required to integrate nutrition-sensitive actions into climate-resilient.