Climate Change and Food Security

Polly Ericksen Environmental Change Institute University of Oxford

Food security…
... exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. (World Food Summit 1996)

... is underpinned by Food Systems.

Global Environmental Change
Changes in the biogeophysical environment caused or strongly influenced by human activities For example changes in: Land cover & soils Atmospheric composition Biodiversity Climate variability & means Sea currents & salinity Water availability & quality Sea level Nitrogen availability & cycling

Global Environmental Change

Examples of human activities leading to GEC: Deforestation Fossil fuel consumption Urbanisation Land reclamation Agricultural intensification Freshwater extraction Fisheries overexploitation Waste production

Climate Change Scenarios

CC SRES estimates

Climate Change Impacts on Grain Yields
Global production
% difference from reference case

Cereal production

-2 -4 -6 -8 -10 -12 A1 A2



Parry et al. (2005)

Percentage change in average crop yields. Effects of CO2 are taken into account. Crops modelled are: wheat, maize and rice.

Climate Change Impacts on crop, livestock and forest production: IPCC estimates


Negative impacts where food insecurity high

Source: FAO State of Food Insecurity 2006

Land use for agriculture
•Harvested land in world increased by 24% 1961 to 2003 to 1.2 billion ha. •Agricultural conversion to croplands and managed pastures has affected some 3.3 billion ha—roughly 26 percent of the land area. •Agriculture has displaced one-third of temperate and tropical forests and one-quarter of natural grasslands.

rld Resources Institute calculations, 2000; mprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture, 2007

Water use in agriculture
• About 70% of global freshwater withdrawal is for agriculture • Compared to 20% for industry and 10% for municipalities • However, 55% of the gross value of crop production grown under rainfed agriculture on 72% of harvested land.

Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture, 2007

Global GHG emission sources

ource: EarthTrends, 2008; using data from the the Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT)

Total GHG emissions for food supply chain associated with household food consumption in the US

Weber & Matthews, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2008

2008: vulnerable food systems

FAO and IMF data 2008

Access is critical to food security

Multiple Exposure: Food insecurity arises from overlapping and interacting stressors



Misselhorn 2005 Global Environmental Change

GECAFS “Food System” concept
Producing food: natural resources, inputs, technology, … Processing & packaging food: raw materials, standards, storage requirement, … Distributing & retailing food: transport, marketing, advertising, … Consuming food: acquisition, preparation, customs, …

Food System OUTCOMES Contributing to:
• • • • • • Social Welfare Income Employment Wealth Social capital Political capital Human capital

Food Security
FOOD UTILISATION • Nutritional Value • Social Value • Food Safety FOOD ACCESS • Affordability • Allocation • Preference

Environmental Welfare • Ecosystem stocks & flows • Ecosystem services • Access to natural capital

FOOD AVAILABILITY • Production • Distribution • Exchange

Ericksen, P. 2008. Global Env. Change

Vulnerability of the Food System to GEC More holistic view
GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE (GEC) Change in type, frequency & magnitude of environmental threats Capacity to cope with, and adapt to, GEC

FOOD SYSTEM RESILIENCE / VULNERABILITY SOCIETAL CHANGE Change in institutions, resource accessibility, economic conditions, etc.

Exposure to GEC

Adapted from Ingram & Brklacich, 2002; Ericksen, 2008

Vulnerability of the food system to GEC is mediated by coping capacity
Example: Nutritional diversity (milk) in the IndoGangetic Plain

Milk production is sensitive to drought (it decreases)
Food security outcome HIGH vulnerability
• access to milk decreases • nutritional value decreases

Rural areas:

Weak coping capacity

• weak markets • poor infrastructure • low income • poor storage or processing

• access to milk • robust markets maintained • sufficient infrastructure • nutritional value • higher income maintained • good storage and processing Source: Multi-authored analysis of IGP food system vulnerability to GEC. GECAFS Report. In prep.

Urban areas:

Strong coping capacity

LOW vulnerability

Making sensible adaptation choices in food systems
• Fair trade or food miles? • Cheap meat for all or luxury meat for a few? • Localized food systems in every country or increased trade? • Sustainable agriculture or industrial production? • Corn for ethanol or corn for animals and sweeteners?

Which features would be important in your food system?
Food security for all?

Supermarkets in every town?

GM Crop technologies?
Vegetable gardens at every house?



Revitalized agricultural extension?

WTO renegotiated?

Payments for agrobiodiversity?