May 22, 2014

Live Blog Post - The Climate-Food Nexus and What It Means for Conflict, Economic Growth, and Sustainability

By Maria Antip, Sorbonne University, International Relations, MS

This post is recap of the "The Climate-Food Nexus and What It Means for Conflict, Economic Growth, and Sustainability" panel at our fifth Global Food Security Symposium 2014 in Washington, DC.

The first session of the 2014 Symposium brought together a renowned panel with a wide range of backgrounds including a journalist, two private sector representatives , an NGO executive, a farmer, and a scientist.

The panel aimed to assess the risk and prioritize the opportunities for global food security in light of climate change. Michael Gerson, columnist at The Washington Post and ONE senior fellow, chaired the session, kicking  off with a bold statement that even smallholder farmers in remote developing places can adopt conservation practices. The focus on smallholder farmers continued and the panel reached the consensus that if we teach climate smart practices to farmers, and they understand the benefits, then they will adopt them.

President & CEO of Save the Children, Carolyn Miles,  stressed that women and children are the most vulnerable victims of weather disaster and hunger. She went on to stress that the first 1,000 days of a child’s life are critical—and after the age of 3, the damage from malnutrition is irreversible.

Cynthia Rosenzweig, a senior research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was confident that the recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report should help global food systems start adapting to climate change now. She added that the way to respond to climate extremes today is by understanding how they will intensify tomorrow. Every country is vulnerable.  Thirty countries are expected to face a food crisis and 20 of these are in Africa, so there is a need to expand climate models outside North America. "The problem is not that we don't have the data, the problem is getting it to the people that need it,” said Rosenzweig, “We need to make data appropriate and available at the community level to empower local first responders in crises."

William Reilly, senior advisor at TPG Capital, highlighted that crop yields can be increased sustainably with innovation, water conservation, technology, and that most malnutrition in the world has been due to governmental instability.

Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc. CEO Obinna Ufudo insisted on the need to set up markets and warehousing facilities so as to reduce post-harvest losses on the African continent. He sees the private sector as playing a vital role in making the food system more sustainable and resilient to shocks. Ufudo also emphasized the role of smartphone technology for smallholder farmers in his country to improve agricultural productivity.

Panelists agreed that smallholder farmers need better access to crop and weather insurance for their assets against disaster.

Trey Hill of Harborview Farms, the only farmer on the panel,  stressed that education on best practices is needed throughout the food supply chain. "Rather than be competitors we should be accomplices,” said Hill, thus highlighting the need for increased multisectorial and multilateral partnerships for climate smart agriculture.

Lastly the panel converged around the idea that agriculture is and should be treated like a business. Greater emphasis on access to agro inputs for smallholder farmers is needed if we are to increase production sustainably to feed a growing population while safeguarding biodiversity and halting climate change.



The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


1,000 Days Blog, 1,000 Days

Africa Can End Poverty, World Bank

Agrilinks Blog

Bread Blog, Bread for the World

Can We Feed the World Blog, Agriculture for Impact

Concern Blogs, Concern Worldwide

Institute Insights, Bread for the World Institute

End Poverty in South Asia, World Bank

Global Development Blog, Center for Global Development

The Global Food Banking Network

Harvest 2050, Global Harvest Initiative

The Hunger and Undernutrition Blog, Humanitas Global Development

International Food Policy Research Institute News, IFPRI

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Blog, CIMMYT

ONE Blog, ONE Campaign

One Acre Fund Blog, One Acre Fund

Overseas Development Institute Blog, Overseas Development Institute

Oxfam America Blog, Oxfam America

Preventing Postharvest Loss, ADM Institute

Sense & Sustainability Blog, Sense & Sustainability

WFP USA Blog, World Food Program USA