A CCS Report by Patricia Parera
Edited by Brigitte Hugh, Erin Sikorsky, and Francesco Femia
This event report is the first of a new initiative by the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) dedicated to shining a light on the U.S. national security benefits of addressing climate change, food insecurity, and stability together. The Feeding Resilience: Climate Change and Food Insecurity Impacts on U.S. National Security Project (Feeding Resilience) is framed by the twin premises that international stability is foundational to U.S. national security and that food security is foundational to international stability. Thus, efforts to bolster the integrity of regional and global food systems can be viewed through a security lens, which is especially true in an era of accelerating climate change, instability and conflict.
This report presents the key takeaways of the first policy discussion, Feeding Resilience: Addressing the Interplay of Climate Change, Food and National Security, held in Washington, DC and virtually on 12 June, 2023, in a series of roundtables that CCS is organizing to engage with climate, security, development, humanitarian, and food security policymakers, practitioners, and academics. The purpose of the roundtables is to share experiences about the nexus of climate change, food insecurity, instability and national security in an effort to identify policy gaps and elicit recommendations and best practices that will serve as a foundation for the CCS’s Feeding Resilience project.
To ground these discussions, the roundtables use concrete case studies focused on the nexus of food, climate, and security in specific countries to help understand and document the different issues, approaches, and advances within these sectors and the relevant communities of practice. The roundtables will be one of a number of inputs for a policy report and actionable recommendations to be presented to policymakers in 2024.
The objective of the June 2023 roundtable was to increase connections among policymakers, the private sector, thought leaders, and civil society, and seek to identify holistic and feasible opportunities to increase investment in global climate adaptation, resilience practices, and food systems innovations as a security imperative. The discussion included Ethiopia as a case study to illustrate these themes.
Participants representing multilateral development banks (MDBs), technical agencies of the United Nations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), United States government agencies and the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) team took part in the half-day event. The roundtable was held under “Chatham House Rule.”.The list of participants, agenda, and presentations are available at
The agenda included a set of questionsshared with the roundtable participants to focus the discussion on specific challenges and opportunities. A moderator led the discussion based on questions suggested in the agenda (see Annex 1). Below is a summary of key takeaways from the policy discussion.
- Food insecurity is likely to grow in 18 hunger hotspots across 22 countries during June to November 2023. The ongoing war in Ukraine is a key driver of this short-term risk.
- Food insecurity can lead to broader security risks in countries that have traditionally been stable.
- Security challenges often arise when people from the middle class start “feeling” the threat of hunger.
- Trends in urbanization are important to the nexus of climate resilience, food security, and security.
- Urbanization is changing agrifood systems globally with implications for the availability and affordability of healthy diets, food security and nutrition, and security in general.
- Underinvestment in agricultural research and development (R&D) is a security risk. Investment in U.S. public agricultural R&D has fallen by a third over the past two decades. China has tripled its investments and it has become the largest funder of agricultural R&D in the world.
- Climate change creates disproportionate and adverse effects on vulnerable populations, exacerbating insecurity on the African continent and accelerating additional challenges.
- Climate change will increasingly affect instability, migration, food security, and resource availability across the continent, requiring increased focus on building climate resilience.
- Need for targeted approaches to address the socio-cultural and geographical diversity of African countries.
- Each day of a violent conflict event registered within any community in pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of Ethiopia increases food poverty by more than 12 percent.
- The international community is not addressing food insecurity with the targeted funding it needs.
- There is a need for private capital for adaptation and resilience investments and right incentives to mobilize it.
- Use existing money more strategically and layer investments to address original drivers of risk.
- Policymakers need to use existing budget resources more effectively by mainstreaming climate-related priorities into existing programs to incentivize win-win spending decisions.
- The amount of money needed to transform food systems so they survive and thrive under climate change is beyond what public sector investment alone can cover.
- There should be an increased focus on preventative, systemic interventions.
- Policymakers need to get ahead of food-related instability.
- The negative impact of climate change in local livelihoods and competition for resources and erosion of social cohesion can increase vulnerability of young people to radicalization or recruitment by violent extremist organizations.
- DoD should have a supporting role, and not a leading role, on humanitarian, emergency, climate change and food insecurity issues.
- Women are often the first to bear the heaviest burden of climate-related adversities, surging food prices, and inflationary pressures.
- Women producers are less able to adopt sustainable and resilient production practices or methods due to their limited access to inputs, including land, time, labor, information, and technologies.
- Social sustainability is as important as infrastructure for tackling the food, security and climate change nexus.
- Policies and potential solutions and implementation are impacted by social sustainability, i.e., healthy social interactions, social cohesion, trust among different actors and partners, good governments and governance.