Climate Change, Food Security, and International Trade
The food security issues have been on the agenda for many years. Issues regarding food security were highlighted in the mid-nineties through the CGI’s food catastrophe study. Since then, there has been an increasing interest by the public and policymakers to address the food security issues and concerns.
One of the most important food security issues is climate change. Rising temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns across the globe have serious implications on food security. Trends in precipitation patterns indicate future increases in extreme events. For example, floods caused by natural disasters have increased in frequency and intensity in some areas of the world over the last thirty years. Although natural disasters are a natural part of the weather, climate change increases the likelihood that certain types of extreme events will occur.
Climate change impacts on food security can be considered both at the national and regional levels. Recent studies point to changing patterns in food prices, reduced crop yields, reduced agricultural production and increased food shortages. Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, if unchecked, could lead to severe consequences for food security. Studies show that adaptation strategies adopted during the early stages of climate change will reduce vulnerability to disasters. Strategies adopted during the last century led to the successful adaptation of the agricultural production sector in many countries.
There is a need to develop effective policies that promote nutritional food security. The gaps in nutritional food choices are currently narrowing, but it is still not reaching the level of food security needs across the developing world. Policymakers should consider reducing nutritional deficiency in children and promoting healthy eating among adults. The key to achieving healthy dietary choices is the promotion of healthy food preferences and healthy food accessibility. Policies should also be developed to ensure adequate access to nutrition through taxation and subsidies.
The reduction of food security risks is not limited to warming or climate change. Other environmental variables that negatively impact food security include habitat loss, air pollution, chemical pollutants, land management and sanitation issues, and unsafe water quality. These environmental factors negatively impact food security when environmental degradation has already caused food losses and when there are no efforts to mitigate these losses. Policy measures should be developed to improve food security from the start of development to the end of the food security chain.
On a national level, adaptation strategies should be designed to deal with the potential short-term effects of climate change. For areas of high food insecurity, adaptation strategies should include policies that provide for the management of crop loss and stressors such as floods and drought. Strategies that address food security risks should also take into consideration long-term trends in climate. Trends in climate have been shown to affect food prices, food distribution, and food consumption. These trends can cause short-term fluctuations but over time they will have long-term impacts that will have negative implications for food security.
Food Production and Consumption
Developing nations must address issues surrounding food production and consumption. The lack of access to adequate capital, infrastructure, and food storage spaces limits food production. As food security concerns grow, developing countries will require more assistance from transporters and brokers to ensure food security. However, food inventories continue to rise, creating pressures to implement policies to increase production while addressing rising food demands. In most cases, developing countries import food products.
Effective food security policies should include policies that reduce vulnerability to food and climate change, enhance food storage space, promote organic farming and food markets, expand access to low-cost food, provide financial resources for crop insurance, and invest in community development. The food security challenges faced by the poor world’s most vulnerable people cannot be solved without concrete action at the national level. A combination of adaptation and integrated research is needed to mitigate the negative consequences of climate change and to promote food security. Adaptation strategies should be designed to meet projected food demand; minimize loss of agricultural productivity due to climate change and environmental degradation; protect and promote the sustainable use of existing natural resources, and enhance management and use of the environment and its components.