Last year witnessed the culmination of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the launch of a new global development agenda – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

March 22 is World Water Day, which focuses this year on the link between water and jobs. As the latest IFPRI blog points out, this link is particularly important for women in rural areas. The majority of women in developing countries engage in agricultural work, whether that is production of food for sale in the market or more production of food for their own households in kitchen gardens.

By: Joseph Glauber, IFPRI
A strong El Niño continued through December, as indicated by above-average sea surface temperatures (SST) across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. The strength and duration of the current El Niño event has raised concerns about global crop prospects and food prices.

The current El Niño cycle, one of the top three strongest on record since the phenomenon started being tracked in 1950, is expected to continue through the winter in the Northern Hemisphere, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

On December 12, nearly 200 countries signed the landmark COP21 Paris agreement into effect. The agreement’s major achievement is a commitment to keep global temperature increases "well below" 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to further limit increases to 1.5C by 2100.

Sugarcane harvester in Brazil. Photo credit: flickr (John McQuaid)

The FAO Food Price Index averaged nearly 162 points in October, up 3.9 percent from the previous month. This was the sharpest increase since July 2012, but the index is still down 16 percent from this time last year.

Scientists, advocates, researchers, and political leaders are preparing to head to Paris for Conference of Parties (COP21) as the impacts of heat, drought, and other extreme weather events-- climate challenges that once seemed a concern for the distant future-- are becoming more immediate. The impacts of climate change on agricultural commodities and trade need to be analyzed in the context of implications for agricultural production, food security, and resource use.

Girl in in Zorro village, Burkina Faso. Photo credit: flickr (CIFOR)

The World Bank released some good news this month regarding extreme global poverty. In the report “Ending Extreme Poverty and Sharing Prosperity: Progress and Policies,” the Bank predicts that by the end of 2015, the number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide will drop from 902 million (the 2012 level) to 702 million, or 9.6 percent of the global population.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s National Centers for Environmental Information has predicted a 95 percent chance that the current El Niño cycle will continue through the winter in the Northern Hemisphere, only beginning to gradually weaken in spring 2016. According to NOAA, this El Niño is shaping up to be the strongest one on record since experts began tracking the phenomenon in 1950.

Children displaced by conflict, DRC. Photo Credit: Flickr (UN Photo/Marie Frechon)

Among the billions of people on the planet, one in nine are chronically undernourished, according to the 2015 Global Hunger Index (GHI) released this week by the International Food Policy Research Institute, Welthungerhilfe, and Concern Worldwide. The 10th annual edition of the report also finds that one in four children are affected by malnutrition-related stunting (low height for age) and nine percent of children are affected by wasting (low weight for height).

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