Ahead of U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Report Urges U.S. Action to Curb Risks of Climate Change on Global Food Security

August 1, 2014
August 1, 2014 CHICAGO – This week, the Obama Administration unveiled the Climate Data Initiative’s “Food Resilience” theme, aimed at empowering America’s agricultural sector and strengthening the resilience of the global food system in a changing climate. The effect of climate change on food security also will be the topic of one of the signature events at the upcoming U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington August 4-6.

A recent report from The Chicago Council on Global Affairs urges U.S. government action to curb the risks climate change poses to global food security. The Chicago Council report explains how higher temperatures, changes in rainfall and natural disasters caused by climate change could undermine food production and put food supplies at risk. In total, climate change could reduce food production growth by 2 percent each decade for the rest of this century.

The report calls on the U.S. government to integrate climate change adaptation into its global food security strategy. Recommendations include:
  • Increasing funding for agricultural research on climate change adaptation. Research priorities should include improving crop and livestock tolerance to higher temperatures and volatile weather, combating pests and disease and reducing food waste.
  • Collecting better data and making information on weather more widely available to farmers.
  • There are significant global data gaps right now on weather; water availability, quality, and future requirements; crop performance; land use; and consumer preferences.
  • Increasing funding for partnerships between U.S. universities and universities and research institutions in low-income countries, to train the next generation of agricultural leaders.
  • Advancing international action through urging that food security be addressed through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

According to the 2014 Chicago Council Survey, 90 percent of Americans say combating hunger is an important goal for U.S. foreign policy and 65 percent of Americans believe economic aid to Africa should be sustained or increased.

“As a global leader in agriculture, the United States should act now,” said Dan Glickman, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and cochair of the study. “It has much to gain by doing so: the continued productivity of the U.S. farm sector, strong international agricultural markets, more stable societies and demonstration of its national commitment to food and nutrition security for the world’s people.”

A bipartisan group of scientific, business and policy leaders led by former Congressmen Glickman (D), and Doug Bereuter, president emeritus of The Asia Foundation (R), have endorsed the report’s recommendations. Gerald C. Nelson, a leading expert on climate change and food security, was the principal author.

“History has shown that with adequate resources and support, agriculture can meet growing production demands and adapt to some changes in climate,” said Bereuter. “But greater emphasis on adaptation must begin now.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and PepsiCo provided generous support for The Chicago Council’s report.