Food security has improved almost everywhere in the world over the last year, according to the 2018 Global Food Security Index.

The document, published in October by The Economist Intelligence Unit, provides a “common framework for understanding the root causes of food insecurity by examining the dynamics of food systems around the world.”

The Index analyses data about food availability and affordability, food quality and safety, natural resources and a country’s exposure to the effects of climate change.

More than 70% of the 113 countries in the Index saw their score improve – especially low-income countries, which indicates a shift towards “strengthened capacity to feed rapidly growing urban populations.”

Singapore replaced Ireland in the top spot of the global ranking, “driven by its strong economic performance and open trade environment.”

On the other side of these positive developments, there are risks coming from political and trade instability and climate change, the Index’s authors warn.

Venezuela’s food security situation has become critical

Venezuela’s food security score has dropped more than any other nation’s since 2012, the Index’s authors state.

The country’s economic and social crisis led to a decrease in GDP per capita of almost 30%. The result was a significant hit to food availability, which “has had a significant impact on the health of Venezuela’s population, with children especially affected.”

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Climate change is here – and some are more vulnerable than others

Temperatures are rising, precipitation patterns are changing, the ocean is becoming more acid – and while all countries are impacted by these changes, some will suffer less than others.

Slovakia reached the first place in this year’s Natural Resources and Resilience ranking, which makes it the most climate change-resilient country in nearly the entire world.

This is due to “its innovations in resilience mechanisms,” in particular “an early-warning mechanism for climate risks and a water valuation programme to prevent and mitigate drought.”

The physical impacts of the changing climate are worst for the Gulf states, Middle Eastern countries and North Africa, followed by Central and South America.

Rising protectionism may threaten food security

Countries that don’t produce enough food rely on imports, and are thus vulnerable to policy changes in food-exporting nations, “such as export bans.”

“Open trade provides a buffer to fluctuations in domestic food supply” and benefits “developing countries, resulting in higher production and exports and lower price volatility,” the authors defend.

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Photo: Claire Benjamin on Flickr