August 21, 2015 | By

New Report Finds Increasing Risk of Food Production Shocks from Extreme Weather

A new report for the Global Food Security programme, prepared by an independent expert taskforce from the United Kingdom and the United States, finds that extreme weather events are increasing worldwide and are likely to disrupt the global food supply with production shocks and price spikes. According to their findings, catastrophic food production shocks from extreme weather are now up to three times more likely.

The UK-US Taskforce on Extreme Weather and Global Food System Resilience reports that extreme weather events – such as droughts, heatwaves, and floods – are increasing in intensity and severity. Their findings indicate that once-in-a-century food production shocks resulting from severe weather now may occur as frequently as once every 30 years, due to the changing climate and changes in global food supply systems.

In light of these findings, the taskforce calls for coordinated global action to mitigate the impact of extreme weather events, and identifies a series of recommendations for how agriculture can adapt to a changing climate. These recommendations include: creating international contingency plans, developing better models to predict production shock effects, and identifying and minimizing “pinch points” in international trade.

Tim Benton, the Global Food Security programme Champion, stated: “This study presents a plausible scenario for how the food system might be impacted by extreme weather, alongside a series of recommendations that should help policy and business plan for the future. Action is urgently needed to understand risks better, improve the resilience of the global food system to weather-related shocks and to mitigate their impact on people.”

The synthesis report, Extreme weather and resilience of the global food system, is available here.


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.


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| By Janet Fierro

Guest Commentary - Rural Niger Women find Opportunity and Hope through Innovative Business Model

When researchers set out to find natural ways to manage a crop-destroying pest in sub-Saharan Africa cowpea fields they knew the results could have significant positive impact on smallholder farmers. What they may not have expected was the significance of the cottage industry it inspired and the entrepreneurial spirit of the rural women of Niger who led it.