|Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief|
GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY AND SUSTAINABILITY IMPLICATIONS OF THE UKRAINE CONFLICT
Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief
The conflict in Ukraine has widespread implications for global food security, particularly as the country is widely known as the breadbasket of Europe. Russia and Ukraine account for 29 percent of global wheat exports, 80 percent of the world’s sunflower oil, and an estimated 40 percent of barley. Additionally, Russia and Belarus are the two largest suppliers of fertilizers around the globe. The conflict has severed key supply chains for these and other critical commodities. The impact on supply chains coupled with other ongoing crises such as severe droughts in the western U.S. will have devastating consequences for people and the environment in the short- and long-term.
On June 1, 2022, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) convened a public workshop to discuss global food security challenges arising from the Ukraine conflict and possible approaches to address these challenges. The workshop focused on short-term responses to the current crisis, opportunities for international collaborations, and how the crisis could impact U.S. national security interests in a changing climate, including the relationships between agricultural production, climate change, and security. Discussions also addressed connections among areas such as agricultural production, land use, energy, water, health, and biodiversity critical to promoting long term sustainability.
WELCOME FROM THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES OF SCIENCES, ENGINEERING, AND MEDICINE
Franklin Carrero-Martínez of Policy and Global Affairs, welcomed participants and introduced the workshop topic, noting that it was developed to raise awareness of global food security challenges ranging from the conflict and use lessons to apply to future conflicts. Elizabeth Eide, Division on Earth and Life Studies, added that the immediate global food security crisis is only one critical issue resulting from the ongoing Ukraine conflict. There are also broader systemic challenges that are relevant to food security and may result from future crises. These global and multidisciplinary challenges require interdisciplinary solutions that address agricultural practices in a changing climate, trade and supply chain issues, and challenges to national security as a result of the conflict.
Monica Feit, Health and Medicine Division, added that a safe and robust food supply is critical to meeting the nutrition and health goals of the world, as well as
ensuring national and international security. The current crisis affects not only Ukraine’s food supply, but food production for populations worldwide. It cannot be overstated that affordable, nutritious food is the key to maintaining a cohesive and productive society, she said.
WORKSHOP OVERVIEW AND OBJECTIVES
Klaus Tilmes, Senior Policy Advisor and Development Consultant, introduced the workshop topic and objectives by noting two key points: (1) it takes the world to feed the world; and (2) this is a crisis on top of a crisis. As Russia and Ukraine are two of the world’s key food baskets, particularly in terms of wheat, barley, and sunflower oil, the conflict has direct implications for the rest of the world, particularly for the next growing season as it will impact fertilizer availability and other commodities. There are also other global crises that could further complicate this issue, including supply chain issues that have global implications, particularly for vulnerable countries in Africa, South America, and the Middle East. There is a need to consider compounding effects, including, supply chains that are not yet fully recovered from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), droughts, and hurricane seasons.
Tilmes provided an overview of the workshop objectives, including to:
- Raise awareness of the global food security challenges arising from the Ukraine conflict;
- Explore approaches for improving global agricultural preparedness for crisis response; and
- Discuss strategies that might be applicable at different scales along with opportunities for international collaboration.
WARFARE ECOLOGY, RECURRENT ACUTE DISASTERS, AND THE UKRAINE CONFLICT: FRAMING REMARKS FOR SUSTAINABILITY SCIENCE
Gary Machlis, Clemson University, discussed the implications of recurrent acute disasters to the environment and broader sustainability. He began by describing the concept of warfare ecology as it applies to the Ukraine conflict, noting that this crisis has led to the largest displaced persons movement in Europe since World War II. Ecology as a science informs our understanding of the impact of war. In 2008, Machlis and Thor Hanson described a subfield within ecology, warfare ecology, to assess the environmental, social consequences of war, peace, and security. Machlis described a taxonomy of warfare, including the “stages of warfare,” which includes key activities such as prewar preparations and post war restoration and recovery. The taxonomy includes activities related to home front, civilian, and military and materiel infrastructure, as well as governance and diplomacy issues.
Machlis also discussed the concept of the keystone species, a species on which other species depend such that if it is withdrawn or removed from the ecosystem, that ecosystem would change radically. This concept can be applied to the Ukraine conflict; there are keystone ports and keystone suppliers affected such that global food systems are radically changing. The Russian Federation and Ukraine produce over 40 percent of the world’s seed oil (see Figure 1). Removing this crop from global exports could have dramatic impacts on global food security.
Machlis also discussed the concept of recurrent acute disasters, or sequential disasters that occur more frequently and with greater intensity. Legacy conditions, or those conditions which result from a disaster and impact future disasters are important. Legacy conditions are likely to be a consequence of the Ukraine war and will greatly affect future generations. For example, weakened infrastructure as a result of the conflict will likely be more significantly impacted by other disasters.
Globalization of the food supply highlights the significant disparities faced by some countries, Machlis stated. There is a need to broaden the vision of “sustainability” and reform policies and practices to ensure consideration of the forgotten, the poorest of the poor, the chronic underclass, the victims of natural disasters, refugees, and the oppressed. Each of these groups are part of the ecology of warfare and remind us that ecology as a science has moral consequences. The Ukraine conflict has several implications for sustainability, including the need to:
- Extend analyses beyond economics to consider social-ecological systems
- Assess keystone elements for vulnerabilities and potential resilience improvements
- Extend the focus of concern to pre-war, war, and post-war conditions and consequences
- Document legacy conditions within a recurrent acute disaster framework
- Work at scales beyond national to include regions, communities, households, and persons
- Include the forgotten in advancing sustainability.
Miguel Román, Leidos, said that the Ukraine conflict has been unique in that there has been a global view into Russian preparations for the war through satellite imagery, specifically, through synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images. This technology has been used with prior disasters, for example, it was used to create a disaster recovery disaster framework to understand legacy conditions in the Syrian conflict as well as post-hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
In 2018, Hurricane Maria led to the destruction of 80 percent of ports in Puerto Rico in a matter of hours. This had significant implications for the agricultural sector. Since the Russians have taken over Ukraine, the cropland losses have been significant, a major driver of land change that will impact food security for generations. Román also discussed electricity as one of the most important keystone variables as it is inextricably linked to security. Satellite-derived measures of power outages and electricity restoration efforts (see https://www.nap.edu/resource/26754/GlobalFoodSecurityUkraineFigures) offer a valuable proxy for access to other key basic services and amenities, such as refrigeration for food and medicines.
Román added that when critical resources are used, the sustainability of the region collapses, and human suffering accelerates. The link between food security and electricity is significant; there is a need to contextualize this as a social system—a human ecosystem. Sustainability science should be spatially aggregated to examine how recovery efforts are targeted, Román said. There is also a need to incorporate big data and analytical tools, both vital instruments of human understanding and accountability and transparency.
UNFOLDING GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY CRISIS AND THE IMPACT OF THE UKRAINE CONFLICT
Madhur Gautam, The World Bank, began by discussing the impact of war in Ukraine on global food and nutrition security. The Russian invasion of Ukraine could not have come at the worse time, he said, on the heels of the COVID-19 and growing climate crises around the world. Countries everywhere have been impacted by rising international food prices. While global food and fertilizer prices were already on the rise prior to the Ukraine war, they jumped dramatically immediately following the start of the war. The compounding effects of rising energy and freight costs, continuing supply chain problems, congestion and port delays, and labor shortages which have constrained inland transport and logistics, and rising global food prices dramatically increased domestic food price inflation across most of the world (see Figure 2). Of the 142 countries for which data are available, food price inflation exceeds overall inflation in 70 percent of these countries.
Together, Ukraine and Russia are major producers, exporters of staple grains, particularly wheat, barley, and main, together providing 26 percent of these grains by volume and close to 30 percent by value. Also, rising food costs and the impact of the war in Ukraine on global trade means that a much larger group of food importing countries are now vulnerable, including countries that are already suffering from high levels of hunger such as Yemen, Haiti, Djibouti, Iraq, Cabo Verde, Lesotho, and Liberia, etc.
Another major concern as result of the Ukraine crisis is skyrocketing fertilizer prices, Gautam stated. Global food security will be at risk over next one to two years given that Russia is a major supplier of fertilizer and that most countries import fertilizer. Higher commodity energy prices are also putting pressure on agribusiness companies. Gautam continued that most major global traders are now facing larger financing needs resulting from higher prices and commodities. Food insecurity is at its highest levels observed in the last 6 years (see https://www.nap.edu/resource/26754/GlobalFoodSecurityUkraineFigures). Nearly 1 billion people worldwide were suffering from severe food insecurity prior to the war in Ukraine. The war will significantly worsen global food insecurity by deepening, broadening, and prolonging food crises throughout the globe. Millions of people in the most vulnerable countries that rely heavily on food imports are likely to face higher levels of acute food insecurity.
Additionally, the food system is already facing enormous challenges, rising serious concerns about how to feed 10 billion people in 2050, Gautam said. There is an urgent need to build up the food system’s resilience to climate and other shocks if we are to achieve durable food security. While addressing this massive challenge, it is critical to also reduce the impact of the food system on nature and climate. The food system contributes about one-third of global anthropogenic GHG emissions. Reducing the GHG footprint of the food system emissions is a high priority, as is reducing the damage inflicted by agriculture on the natural resource base (soils and water) and biodiversity. Instead, agriculture’s huge potential to sequester carbon needs to be fully exploited. Gautam described four major entry points as a path forward to address these challenges to global food security though a combination of short and long-term strategic engagements, including the need to:
- Facilitate unhindered food trade by building international consensus (e.g., G7, G20, among others) along with a commitment to avoid export restrictions that exacerbate global food price increases
- Support consumers and vulnerable households by scaling up nutrition-sensitive social protection programs and replenish early-response financing mechanisms to protect vulnerable household
- Support producers by ensuring next season’s production through removal of input trade barriers, a focus on more efficient use of fertilizers, and a repurposing of public policies and expenditures to better support farmers
- Invest in sustainable food and nutrition security, by strengthening food systems to make them more resilient to rising risks, trade disruptions and economic shocks.
The World Bank is taking action on these issues, including the following:
- Emergency operations are under preparation for particularly vulnerable, import-dependent countries. This includes financing grain imports where warranted, increasing storage capacity and quality, and supporting regional value chains to address supply disruptions
- The World Bank is providing significant financial support for the food system, including support for Ukraine and countries hosting refugees at a scale of $50 billion in FY 2022 and $170 billion over the next 15 months
- The Bank is enabling market access, supporting food producers, and protecting the most vulnerable population through cash transfers.
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR GLOBAL TRADE AND REGIONAL SUPPLY CHAINS
Jeff Martin, Tribal Planet, moderated a panel focusing on challenges and opportunities for international trade and markets, including the impacts of supply chain disruptions and uncertainties and the importance of information sharing on commodities during crisis.
Joseph Glauber, International Food Policy Research Institute, began by highlighting the long-term ramifications resulting from the current food crisis. At the time Russia invaded Ukraine, food prices were already in some cases the highest levels seen in a decade. Twelve percent of the global market share of calories comes from Russia and Ukraine. For various commodities, for sunflower oil, for example, these countries account for roughly 50 percent of this commodity overall. With the invasion of Ukraine, prices have already started to increase for many of these commodities (see https://www.nap.edu/resource/26754/GlobalFoodSecurityUkraineFigures).
Glauber reiterated the point that Russia is a key supplier of fertilizer, which is having a global impact of supply, although it is not clear how much it is impacting productivity currently. If there is a sharp reduction in the fertilizer supply without alternatives, this will ultimately result in productivity losses (see https://www.nap.edu/resource/26754/GlobalFoodSecurityUkraineFigures).
As global prices rise, there is increased volatility in the markets. Taxes are also impacting exports. Russia, for example, has about a 25 percent tax on wheat exports. Since the war began, Ukraine has also implemented export restrictions. These disruptions extend globally, for example, Turkey’s imports of flour are affected as they import from Ukraine. Glauber presented a country-by-country vulnerability map depicting which countries are most vulnerable as a result of the conflict. Factors contributing to vulnerability include direct exposure to Black Sea supply chain issues, food import dependency, macroeconomic vulnerability, fertilizer import dependency, and existing local food market dynamics (see https://www.nap.edu/resource/26754/GlobalFoodSecurityUkraineFigures).
Nicoletta Batini, International Monetary Fund, reiterated that the Ukrainian conflict has directly impacted the global food prices. In addition to wheat futures at their highest level since 2012 and tight supplies in key exporting countries, the trade restrictions due to sanctions on Russia have also increased worldwide energy and transport costs. She added that by 2050, there will be a need double food production because of population growth, dietary shifts, and increasing energy demand. Well before the conflict began, billions of people were on a trajectory towards hunger, poverty, and instability; the current situation has exacerbated this crisis.
Batini noted that the international community can take concrete steps to alleviate the food crisis in the short term and build a more sustainable and resilient global food system for the year ahead. Firstly, the financial sanctions imposed by the West on Russia are of the major drivers of the current food crisis. These sanctions are impacting the export of wheat and other vital crops as the financial industry that underwrites the country’s commodity businesses are being blacklisted. These sanctions, compounded by the disruptions caused by the pandemic, result in fragile supply chains, shifts in commodity price trends, and private sector panic by some companies. Replacing financial sanctions with positive economic weapons, such as supply side food system infrastructure investment or support for emerging markets, would offer immediate relief for increasing food prices and shortages. Secondly, there is a need to maintain the open flow of trade; trade barriers and export restrictions are damaging to all countries, particularly during periods of crisis. There is also a need to repurpose agricultural subsidies. A new report to which both Batini and Glauber contributed, issued by the
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), looks at ways to redress agricultural subsidies.1 Her recent book (2021) on The Economics of Sustainable Food: Smart Policies for People and the Planet discusses this issue in detail by placing it in a wider context.2
There is also a need to increase sustainable agricultural production, Batini noted. In the United States and the European Union, there is an opportunity to reallocate land currently used to grow crops for biofuels to the production of crops for food, Batini stated. Currently, one-third of U.S. ground corn and three to four million tons of wheat are used to produce ethanol for fuel. The ethanol produced in the United States today adds dramatically to agricultural carbon footprint and diverts capacity away from food production. The amount of grain needed to make enough ethanol to fuel a 25-gallon SUV tank would feed one person for a full year. Converting crops for biofuels to food production could serve as a broader strategic effort to increase food security and address climate change. Batini said that increases in agricultural productivity can also be achieved by investing in soil and water health and restoring degraded land and water systems through a shift to regenerative land and ocean farming.
Batini noted that the current crisis is also further fueling the transition to healthy diets, curbing the overconsumption of animal products and highly processed food. A meat eaters diet requires almost 20 times more land, 15 times more water, and 10 times more energy than a vegetarian diet. She said that we could eliminate the worst cases world hunger today with about 14 million tons of food; currently 760 million tons of food is fed to animals on farms every year. There is also a need to retarget agricultural subsidies towards plant-based healthy foods, taxing animal products and unhealthy foods, and aligning procurement practices with education programs.
Finally, Batini noted the need for policies to reduce food waste, either during production in developing countries or when it reaches the consumer in developed countries. Food waste contributes significantly to climate change. Taking these steps now can help ensure that we have nutritious food for all, even in the face of the current crisis.
Yousuf Al-Bulushi, German University of Technology in Oman, discussed how the Ukraine conflict is affecting global food supply, including its role in destroying infrastructure and the damage to crops due to military activity, among other issues. There is also a significant impact on smallholders, who play an important role in local employment and food security. Smallholders are key suppliers to short local value chains. Micro and small enterprise (MSE) supply chains have enhanced resilience to crises and disruptions due to their long-standing operation within regional ecosystems.
Al-Bulushi discussed the importance of the Protocols of the Geneva Convention to the current situation. These state that “objects necessary for food production and distribution, such as farms, markets, water systems, mills, food processing and storage sites must not be attacked, and that objects that are indispensable to the survival of civilian population, such as foodstuffs, crops, livestock, agricultural assets, drinking water installations and irrigation works must not be destroyed, targeted or rendered useless.” Water scarcity is also a key challenge for the Ukraine and other regions, including Oman. Oman has an initiative with Palestine, Jordan, and other countries to examine the issue of water scarcity as a common challenge. This may serve as a good example for the Ukraine conflict and others like it.
Discussion and Q&A
During the Q&A session, panelists discussed the lack of substantive progress in terms of addressing tariffs, reducing domestic support, or agricultural subsidies. Export restrictions are another challenge as the current rules allow restrictions, which can hurt both consumers and producers. Participants also discussed the point raised by Batini, that redirecting crops for biofuels could increase the food supply, including political and regulatory barriers to making this shift. Participants
1 UNEP, UNDP, and FAO. 2021. A Multi-Billion-Dollar Opportunity: Repurposing agricultural support to transform food systems. https://www.unep.org/resources/repurposing-agricultural-support-transform-food-systems.
2 Batini, N. 2022. The Economics of Sustainable Food: Smart Policies for People and the Planet. https://www.amazon.com/Economics-Sustainable-Food-Policies-Health/dp/1642831611.
also discussed China’s role and efforts to address food security, including discussion about how much food stock the country has in place as well as its efforts to address food security in Africa. China is one of the biggest agricultural markets, including as a major exporter.
Participants also discussed the need to create supply chain efficiencies in addressing the food supply crisis. Glauber said there is a need to mitigate trade restrictions which may help to address food supply issues. Batini added that if production can be increased to address demand by reevaluating current land use. If we have abandoned land that can be used in countries, for example, this can result in increased efficiencies. Al-Bulushi said that the key challenge is not a scarcity of production but the distribution of the food.
IMPROVING GLOBAL AGRICULTURAL PREPAREDNESS FOR CRISIS RESPONSE
Roni Neff, Johns Hopkins University, moderated a panel highlighting a systems perspective for improving global agricultural preparedness for crisis response, including the balance between greater resilience and efficiency, potential trade-offs, and unintended consequences to improve preparedness.
Marty Matlock, University of Arkansas, began by stating that it is well understood that fragile systems are more vulnerable to collapse from acute events, including war. When market systems and forces drive decisions, these can lead to consolidation and aggregation, which may be efficient, but not resilient, particularly in terms of the impacts on ecosystems. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to address food system resiliency, spending significant funding on this issue. The International Fund for Agricultural Development’s crisis response initiative outlines key elements that need to be addressed related to the inevitable acute food shortage coming in September 2022 related to the Ukraine crisis.
To create resiliency within the systems, there is a need to ensure access to inputs and technologies for smallholder farmers, Matlock said. It is particularly important to support access to financing for these small scale systems, including facilitating access to markets for those systems. To increase the diversity of sources of food types, there is also a need to expand access to technologies to smallholders, particularly to address food loss.
Matlock added that there is a need for more investment in peri-urban agricultural production in regions around the world, which will allow farmers to have access to effective processing, packaging, distribution, storage and marketing resources, along with the necessary finances and technical support. Creating a resilient food system requires intentionality, Matlock said. Rather than imposing our own solutions, the U.S. can provide resources to communities to solve their own challenges.
Ray Weil, University of Maryland, reminded participants about the importance of soil in the discussion of food systems. The eastern part of Ukraine is home to some of the world’s most productive and highly prized soils, similar to the soils found in the northern Great Plains in North America. Already severely degraded by a century of Soviet-style farming, these soils are directly affected by the conflict, through vehicle compaction, cratering, and contamination by explosives. Weil added that there will be an opportunity, following the conflict, to revitalize Ukrainian agriculture using innovative processes. Although Ukrainian soils are rapidly degrading, they could be turned around quickly by stopping tillage, for example. No-tillage agriculture accounts for about 40 percent of the large acreage commodity crops in the United States and a higher percentage in South America. With reduced tillage, there is an increase in biodiversity and plant biomass along with lower carbon and methane emissions. Also, there is also an opportunity to diversify the current wheat and barley production by growing little known but highly nutritious ancient grains, as well as diverse cover crops.
Such advances have been implemented by U.S. farmer innovations in recent years as part of social and technological “revolution” in U.S. agriculture. While the average age of farmers in the U.S. has been approaching 60, this is changing. With the new farmer-lead innovations, more children of farmers now want to stay in agriculture in contrast to the trend over the past
century. Bolstering this trend, the U.S. Natural Resources and Conservation Service currently promotes regenerative agricultural practices to make grain production more profitable, efficient and environmentally sustainable. The agency highlights successful soil health-promoting practices from ecological farms through social media and direct farmer-to-farmer communications to advance agricultural innovation and resilience. Similar approaches could likely help transform Ukrainian agriculture, as well.
Nate Mook, World Central Kitchen, described the direct impact his organization is seeing on the ground in communities across Ukraine. World Central Kitchen is serving close to 400,000 freshly prepared meals every day around the country and serving millions of pounds of food to communities, much of which has been supplied by Poland and other parts of the European Union.
Hunger is a significant problem in the Ukraine, given disruptions by the invasion to the food systems additionally the growing region is now occupied by Russian force, Mook stated. The scale of the movement of refugee populations is also significant. Local production has been limited due to global economic issues, limitations on fertilizers, and the cost of fuel. Current farming technologies are fuel and fertilizer intensive. Transporting food is also a significant challenge given the conflict’s impact on transportation and Ukrainian ports. To get food into Ukraine, it can take five or six days.
World Central Kitchen is working to support local farmers during this time, provide them with the seeds and crop protection they need. However, it is unclear how to address the long-term challenges that will result from the conflict. Mook cautioned that there is a need for continued attention on the Ukraine conflict given the dire nature of the situation. Ukraine is the breadbasket for the world, and the ramifications of this conflict are wide and will be long lasting.
Discussion and Q&A
Panelists and participants discussed the diversity of the growing regions across the Ukraine. Each region of the country is facing a different challenge in terms of its food supply and agriculture. Mook added that the Ukrainian people have been heroes throughout this conflict, including Alexander Kamyshin, CEO of the Ukrainian Railways, who is supporting the transfer of food across the country during this difficult time. Kamyshin has connected World Central Kitchen with the largest seed producer in Ukraine, which has helped to build their work in the country.
One participant inquired as to whether Ukrainian farmers are able to convert their crops to food for export. Mook said that based on his knowledge, there is not much in the way of exporting of food currently; however, farmers are continuing to consider opportunities to increase their yields. There are currently fields of wheat, barley, and corn growing within the country—a good sign. His organization has been collaborating with small farmers to grow crops, allowing their communities to remain self-sufficient during this period.
Participants discussed what steps could have been taken to better prepare for the Ukraine conflict. As one participant noted, there is a general dependence on the realities of market systems which is driving decisions. For example, the actual global reduction in wheat supply has been relatively modest (10 to 12 percent) this year, but the regional impacts will be significant, and the market response has been dramatic. There is a need to determine proactive solutions that are not driven by the market. This will require the ability to examine risk more holistically; the public and private sector have a role to play.
Mook added that a critical need is to ensure our solutions match what is happening on the ground. Data are key to driving these decisions, particularly data on the resiliency of the system. Humanitarian efforts to boost food security should also push for more local procurement, rather than focusing on U.S. food system to provide these resources.
Technology adoption in agriculture is slow. To address this, there is a need to fund both the adoption and innovation of technology to the appropriate scale for the system, one participant noted. As we move to a data centric agricultural system, there will be a need for discussions around who controls the data.
UNDERSTANDING LINKS BETWEEN CLIMATE CHANGE AND SECURITY IMPLICATIONS
Melissa Ho, World Wildlife Fund, moderated a panel focused on the linkages between food insecurity and instability in a changing climate along with possible approaches to address these types of risks among the national security community.
Rod Schoonover, Council on Strategic Risks, discussed issues of climate change and security, noting that most climate security analysis focuses on a small subset of meteorological factors, including temperature, precipitation, and sea level risk. He described trends in climate-linked phenomena (see Table 1) and stresses to people and societies (see Table 2).
|Increase in global mean surface temperatures||Increase in global mean sea level||Decrease in Arctic sea cover|
|Increase in hot days and nights over land (intensity, frequency)||Decrease in cold days and nights over land (intensity, frequency)||Increases in storm surges (number, magnitude)|
|Increase in terrestrial heatwaves (frequency, duration)||Increase in marine heatwaves (frequency, duration)||Increase in drought (intensity, duration)|
|Increase in some tropical cyclones (intensity, frequency)||Increase in global mean precipitation||Increased contrast between wet and dry regions|
|Decrease in Northern Hemisphere snow cover||Decrease in permafrost stability||Poleward shift in storm tracks|
|Increase in wave heights||Increase in ocean acidification||Decrease in oceanic oxygen content|
|Increase in floods (magnitude, frequency)||Increase in mountain phenomena (slope instability, lake outbursts)||Increases in coral degradation and bleaching|
|Poleward movement of animal and plant species||Desynchronization of springtime ecological processes||Shifts in algal, plankton, and fish ranges|
TABLE 1 Trends in Climate-Linked Phenomena.
SOURCE: Rod Schoonover, presentation, June 1, 2022, derived from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC AR5).
|Impacts from single and multiple extreme events||Risks to food access, storage, utilization, and prices||Disruptions of ecological food networks that support people|
|Decreased surface water and groundwater supply and access||Risks to global supply chains, such as food, products, parts||Increased displacement of people and changes in migration|
|Reduced water quality from heavy precipitation and drought||Shifts in agricultural production zones of food, fiber, and fuel||Negative effects on human health, including disease, injury, death|
|Increased species extinctions, redistributions, and reductions||Decreased integrity and reliability of energy systems||Changing or emerging geostrategic domains, such as the Arctic|
|Coastal impacts, such as surges, erosion, and flooding||Risks to key economic sectors, such as tourism and insurance||Loss or degradation of resource-dependent livelihoods|
|Reduced and redistributed catch potential for fish and seafood||Degradation or loss of shelter or housing||Loss of territory, infrastructure, or rights from sea level rise|
|Loss of marine and terrestrial biodiversity that support people||Declining labor productivity and forms of work||Change in distribution and impact of disease-carrying organisms|
|Depressed or altered crop yields and yield variability||Threats to integrity and reliability of infrastructure||Increase in frequency, range, or toxicity of harmful algae|
TABLE 2 Climate-Linked Stresses to People and Societies.
SOURCE: Rod Schoonover, presentation, June 1, 2022, derived from IPCC AR5.
There are many pathways in which climate and climate-linked effects impact people, beyond storms, drought, or heat, said Schoonover. A 2018 article3 identified traceable evidence for 467 pathways by which climate change affects people. Scoping risk appropriately is important; there is a persistent tendency for societies to decouple exposure and vulnerability from stress.
Climate change is just one ecological stressor. Others include ocean acidification; extinctions and population declines; land-use change, habitat conversion, and fragmentation; biogeochemical imbalances; overharvesting, overfishing, and over farming; direct exploitation of organisms; pollution, plastification, and toxification; and invasive species. Societal, political, economic, and informational stresses also are contributing factors, Schoonover noted. He quoted a 2021 article4 which said that “without fully appreciating and broadcasting the scale of the problems and the enormity of the solutions required, society will fail to achieve even modest sustainability goals.”
Schoonover discussed pathways for risk to human security, such as death or injury from direct harm, water stress, food stress, and erosion of economic livelihoods, among other areas. Pathways for risks to national security include harm to US citizens, political instability, heightened tension of over resources, negative impacts on key economic sectors, loss of territory, among others.
The precautionary principle, as defined in the 1992 Rio Declaration: “In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied [...]. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation,” is relevant to this discussion, Schoonover said. When examining the compounding nature of nested complex systems interacting with each other and the potential for immense harm, the precautionary principle should apply not only to the environment but to security as well.
Brian O’Neill, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, discussed the complicated relationship between conflict, food security, and climate change. Climate variability and climate change has probably played a small role in conflict, he said, although risks increase with warming. In one assessment of the role of climate change in current and anticipated future conflicts, researchers found a 75 percent probability that climate has had a negligible impact; however, this role may grow over time. There is an estimated 50 percent probability that climate would moderately or substantially increase conflict risk with a 4 degree increase in temperature (see Figure 3).5
Non-climate factors play a larger role in determining conflict risk, including low socioeconomic development, low state capability, intergroup inequality, and recent history of violent conflict, among others. Climate change ranks low on the list. However, as the IPCC notes, the
3 Mora et al. 2018. Broad threat to humanity from cumulative climate hazards intensified by greenhouse gas emissions. Nature Climate Change 8:1062-1071. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-018-0315-6.
4 Bradshaw, C. J. A., P. R. Ehrlich, A. Beattie, G. Ceballos, E. Crist, J. Diamond, R. Dirzo, A. H. Ehrlich, J. Harte, M. E. Harte, G. Pyke, P. H. Raven, W. J. Ripple, F. Saltré, C. Turnbull, M. Wackernagel, and D. T. Blumstein. 2021. Underestimating the challenges of avoiding a ghastly future. Frontiers in Conservation Science. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcosc.2020.615419.
5 Mach, K. J., C. M. Kraan, W. N. Adger, H. Buhaug, M. Burke, J. D. Fearon, C. B. Field, C. S. Hendrix, J-F. Maystadt, J. O’Loughlin, P. Roessler, J. Scheffran, K. A. Schultz, and N. von Uexkull. 2019. Climate as a risk factor for armed conflict. Nature 571:193-197. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1300-6.
“... risks due to climate change are relevant primarily for highly vulnerable populations and for pessimistic development scenarios,” said O’Neill.
Climate change does pose a risk for food security, O’Neill noted. Climate change increases number at risk of hunger tens to more than 100 million by 2050. Higher energy and land prices leading to higher food prices all have a substantial impact on the risk of hunger. O’Neill noted that food security is also subject to compounding risks, such as multiple simultaneous climate hazards and simultaneous climate and non-climate events. Major production areas for grains, for example, being hit by climate hazards will have a compound effect on food security. Food security is also subject to cascading risks, of those where you hit one outcome in one sector that leads to an impact in another, etc. In the Ukraine conflict, for example, there are impacts on the energy sector, driving up energy prices, which will have consequences for food security.
O’Neill discussed the importance of trade in reducing climate risks to food security. Modeling estimates that under current trade policies, 30–45 million people would be at risk of hunger in 2050; depending on climate change, restrictions to trade increases that the number at risk by about 50 percent. Facilitating trade, however, decreases the number at risk by about 30 percent.6
Tegan Blaine, U.S. Institute of Peace, discussed the linkages between climate change and conflict, reiterating the lack of data currently available to support this connection. However, vulnerability to climate change is strongly correlated a country’s vulnerable to violence and political unrest. Additionally, there are data from across Africa that show that as temperature rises, the risk of conflict rises. This is supported by data from the public health community which has found that interpersonal conflict rises as temperature goes up.
Blaine described climate-related shocks or weather-related events, such as storms, tropical hurricanes, and floods, which often lead to significant turmoil and displacement of communities. In the aftermath of these events, we do see significant increase in conflict and violence. Areas affected by long-term climate change happen to be breeding grounds for recruitment for violent extremists, however, there is no strong data to support this.
Migration patterns also appear to be linked to climate change. The people who are the most vulnerable to climate impact are being stranded in rural areas because they do not have the resources to move. Many of those who do move end up living on the outskirts of urban areas where they are not welcomed into the urban city, for example, slums which are even more exposed to climate impacts. There are examples of this happening in places like Latin America, Blaine said. From an international perspective, climate change has major implications for development, diplomacy, and defense. There is a need to invest in helping rural communities address climate risks, including supporting increased access to health, education, and other services which can help provide resilience to communities, enabling them to address climate risks.
Discussion and Q&A
Ho summarized themes from the discussion, noting that the causal link between climate change and conflict is not established. However, climate change is driving other underlying factors that are affecting conflicts, such as food and water security. Also, as temperatures get hotter, this also affects health and wellbeing in indirect ways. Participants also discussed cascading and compounding indirect stressors, including how climate change is driving these stressors. The Ukraine war has unmasked weak points in our global agricultural supply chains. The national security community needs to properly scope climate stressors and other ecological and nonecological stressors.
One key concern related to climate change is that the inevitable increase in temperature will make large swaths of land no longer inhabitable, said one participant. There is a need to consider the long-term ramifications of this geographic shift and how people move from a security
6 Janssens, C., P. Havlík, T. Krisztin, J. Baker, S. Frank, T. Hasegawa, D. Leclère, S. Ohrel, S. Ragnauth, E. Schmid, H. Valin, N. Van Lipzig, and M. Maertens. 2020. Global hunger and climate change adaptation through international trade. Nature Climate Change 10:829-835. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-0847-4.
perspective. Timescale is also important to consider in discussions of climate change and security.
Participants discussed examples of what success would look like in scoping climate change climate security risks. One panelist discussed efforts to address this by the international development community which is ahead of the curve in terms of considering what climate change means for development programs. There are ongoing efforts to integrate climate change considerations into international development work. The U.S. military has also begun to consider these issues. Another panelist noted that the International Health Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is examining climate stressors from a health perspective which the goal of producing an integrated outlook on these issues.
As one participant noted, many countries have not yet considered the connections between climate displacement and migration and broader security policy. There is a need to begin having these conversations both domestically and globally. The information we currently have is not perfect, but it is enough to start the conversation.
A PATH FORWARD: FUTURE NEEDS AND OPPORTUNITIES
Tilmes moderated a final panel on actionable next steps to address issues identified during the workshop. He began by noting that the group examined complex set of issues, including food security, climate change, and security issues related to the Ukraine conflict. The crisis will require multilateral and systems thinking approaches and solutions. Participants identified several areas below.
Expanding and promoting the role of local communities and solutions.
Shefali Mehta, U.S. Department of Agriculture reiterated what many participants discussed throughout the workshop, that local communities drive solutions to challenges; investing in these local solutions appears to result in increased resilience. She added that local adaptation and tailoring is essential to this discussion and a path forward. E. William Colglazier, American Association for Advancement of Science, also highlighted the role of local communities, including in developing and defining what they mean by resilience. Involving people where they live in these solutions is essential; local level adoption of solutions is key for dealing with crises.
Improving decision making under uncertainty.
Decision making under uncertainty is a particular challenge for policymakers, scientists, and the public, Mehta added. There is a need to translate research into decision making; however, there is an opportunity to shape the message so that it incorporates optimism about the future, in the face of this uncertainty. Also, these discussions could also address mental health issues.
Strengthening data to inform decisions.
As one participant noted, there is room for more discussion about data to inform decisions about supply chains and move toward more resiliency and accountability. The adoption of technology and increasing the role of data can also help address challenges related to inequality and vulnerability.
Improving foresight analyses to support national security.
Colglazier said that intelligence agencies could benefit from advice from the National Academies about how to improve foresight analyses around disasters. He noted that, as Weil discussed, now is the time to begin thinking about rebuilding Ukrainian systems, including agricultural system. The National Academies could contribute to this endeavor.
Understanding organizational approaches that work.
Another participant suggested the need to delve into organizational approaches and practices during crises, including why some are effective and others are not.
Balancing efficiency and resilience.
Other participants noted the need for further discussion around the balance between efficiency and resilience, including tradeoffs.
Scaling and promoting successes.
Examining successful innovations that could be promoted and examined for scalability was discussed by several participants. The National Academies could have a role to play in elevating these successes. For example, one participant described a positive innovation in the UK with their recent integrated
food policy that includes common objectives that crosses sectors.
Examining climate-related shocks from an anthropological point of view.
Román said there is a need to examine what shock from an anthropological point of view, expanding our knowledge beyond technology to the human side, and incorporating justice.
DISCLAIMER This Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief was prepared by FRANKLIN CARRERO-MARTÍNEZ, JENNIFER SAUNDERS, and EMI KAMEYAMA as a factual summary of what occurred at the meeting. The statements made are those of the rapporteur(s) or individual meeting participants and do not necessarily represent the views of all meeting participants; the planning committee; or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
COMMITTEE ON SUSTAINBILITY IMPLICATIONS OF THE UKRAINE CONFLICT AND GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY KLAUS TILMES (Chair), Senior Policy Advisor and Development Consultant; MELISSA HO, World Wildlife Fund; JEFF MARTIN, Tribal Planet, Inc., and RONI NEFF, Johns Hopkins University. STAFF: FRANKLIN CARRERO-MARTÍNEZ, Senior Director, Science and Technology for Sustainability Program (STS), Policy and Global Affairs (PGA); APURVA DAVE, Senior Program Officer, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC), Division on Earth and Life Studies (DELS); EMI KAMEYAMA, Program Officer, STS; ROBIN SCHOEN, Director, Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, DELS; AMANDA STAUDT, Senior Director, BASC; ESTER SZTEIN, Acting Director, Board on International Scientific Organizations, PGA; and ANN YAKTINE, Director, Food and Nutrition Board, Health and Medicine Division.
REVIEWERS To ensure that it meets institutional standards for quality and objectivity, this Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief was reviewed by BARBARA SCHAAL, Washington University in St. Louis, and ROD SCHOONOVER, Council on Strategic Risks.
SPONSORS This workshop was supported by the National Academy of Sciences George and Cynthia Mitchell Endowment for Sustainability.
Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Global Food Security and Sustainability Implications of the Ukraine Conflict: Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26754.
For additional information, visit: https://www.nationalacademies.org/event/06-01-2022/sustainability-implications-of-the-ukraine-conflict-and-global-food-security-a-workshop.
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