August 5, 2014 | By

US, African Leaders Pledge to Build Agricultural Resilience to Climate Change

On August 4, at the US-Africa Leaders Summit Signature Event, “Resilience and Food Security in a Changing Climate,” US and African government leaders, as well as leaders from the private and philanthropic sectors, met to discuss three critical and interrelated areas in the US-Africa relationship: food security, climate change, and resilience. These leaders highlighted the numerous actions already underway and announced new initiatives to ensure resilience in the face of climate change, while calling on the Heads of State at the Summit and those around the world to take decisive, collaborative action to advance global food security.

In his opening remarks, Secretary of State John Kerry praised President Obama’s commitments to agricultural development and food security, such as Feed the Future and the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. Kerry also announced the US’s intention to sign onto the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture, which will launch formally in September at the UN Climate Summit, and called on the Heads of State and other leaders present to do the same.

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, also announced a $100 million Global Resilience Partnership that will institute a new model for solving the complex and interrelated challenges of the 21st century, such as persistent and often extreme poverty, food insecurity, and climate shocks. The Partnership will focus on the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and South and Southeast Asia, areas particularly susceptible to chronic stresses and extreme shocks; as Rodin observed, “We can’t always prevent shocks and stresses, but we can better prepare for them.”

The event also featured remarks by Dr. Jill Biden, who called for greater investments in women to address food insecurity. During panel discussions moderated by Administrator Shah and Senior White House Counselor John Podesta, government, business, and NGO leaders outlined the importance of global partnerships, and how to best leverage such partnerships, to advance food security goals.

Secretary Kerry noted in his remarks that “we have solutions, but none of these solutions will implement themselves.” As the effects of climate change on food security, agricultural production and nutrition continue to unfold, the policy measures and collaborative efforts already underway, as well as the new initiatives highlighted at the event, will be pivotal to ensuring that farmers and consumers, particularly smallholder farmers in developing nations, are equipped with the tools that ensure their resilience to the threats from climate change. The Chicago Council’s recent report, Advancing Global Food Security in the Face of a Changing Climatemakes specific recommendations for how the US government can help build such resilience, including improved data collection, increasing funding for partnerships and agricultural research, and passing legislation for a long-term global food and nutrition security strategy.


The US-Africa Leaders Summit is largest event that any US President has held with African heads of state and government, and continues through August 6 in Washington, DC. 


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 Roger Thurow

Our New Gordian Knot

Fifty years ago Dr. Norman Borlaug recieved the Nobel Peace Prize for cutting the "Goridan knot" of population and food production. Now the planet faces another seemingly intractable problem: how to nourish the planet while preserving the planet.