How to ensure Food Security in times of Climate Change?

Key aspects include shocks in food production and the disintegration of livelihood systems, putting increased pressure on local populations that are dependent on agricultural activities. What can be done to secure lives and livelihoods in times of unprecedented global warming? What are activities that should be supported by global governance for curtailing climate-related risks to peace?

"Numerous experts fear that climate change exists as a risk factor for peace. One key impact is that climate change is likely to disrupt food production in many regions. This will have serious consequences for local livelihoods - particularly those dependent on farming, fishing and herding. Others will also be affected, as the risk of public unrest and civil conflict intensifies when food prices and availability become more volatile.

Oli Brown: Climate change plays out in many different ways around food security and water and land and so on. Fundamentally, it’s redrawing the maps of our world and that is very destabilizing, it potentially makes life a lot more difficult in different parts of the world through food security problems, through internal displacement, through problems of water.

Sue Lautze: There can be no food security without peace, there also cannot be any peace without food security!

John Liu: Well, it is pretty complex because you have geologic, evolutionary, and human history and so we have millions of years of data and thousands of years of data and it says human beings have damaged natural ecosystem function on a planetary scale. And it seems to me that climate change is more of a symptom than an actual end result and we have also seen that it is possible to rehabilitate large scale damaged ecosystems. This knowledge is a responsibility. This is the way to end poverty. This is the way to have sufficient water resources, to have food security and this is the way to address climate change.

As demographic change puts additional pressure on agricultural systems, it’s more important than ever to safeguard the biosphere’s ability to produce enough food to fulfill humanity’s needs. It is crucial, therefore, to ensure that vulnerable communities are able to adapt to negative impacts.

Kitty van der Heijden: Take one example in my own backyard, I live in Ethiopia, as I said, in the province of the north of Tigray. You know, heavily stricken by El Niño, climate impacts, huge food insecurity – so what do you do? Years ago, we started with many other partners to talk about restoring degraded lands. You can do that with very simple means: Giving the farmers ownership over the trees. By now farmers themselves, with their own hands, moved 90 million tons of soil, of dirt and of stones to help with water harvesting, for terassing of the hilly terrain. If you look at that region now, it is the one region that is still food secure, that despite the drought, despite El Niño. It did not cost a heck of a lot of money.

Land restoration is but one example of many actions which can be taken to ensure food security and prevent conflict. Other examples include climate change mitigation, improving access to food or refining early warning/early action systems. Global governance can support these efforts, for example by coordinating the responses, reforming trade regimes, and establishing equitable insurance schemes. To learn more about climate change, food security and conflict, and to find recommendations, have a look at the interactive ECC Factbook:

Global Food Price Shocks (ECC Factbook)
Food price volatility and fragility in the MENA region (ECC Factbook)

How to Advance Regional Climate Risk Insurances - Policy Brief 2017
Supporting Global Food Security in a Changing Climate Through Transatlantic Cooperation