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Prepared Remarks on Global Food and Climate Security

Byzantine_agricultureThe following speech was delivered on Dec. 12, 2012 in Washington, DC by Caitlin Werrell, at a global food security and climate change lunch conversation for bishops from the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church. 

I was invited to discuss the human security risks that climate change presents, specifically (but not exclusively) related to food security. I will briefly look at what we mean by climate as a security risk, discuss a couple of case studies and then close on what this might mean going forward for food security and your programs. (more…)

Thailand and Food Security: Climate Change, Floods and Grasshoppers

A recent article in IRIN details the multiplication of rice pests after last year’s devastating floods – pests that have the capacity to “decimate harvests.” According to the country’s Rice Department, the “brown plant hopper” has destroyed 30 percent of rice production in affected provinces, “amounting to around 1.3 million tons for the country, or more than 15 percentage of the nationwide harvest, which takes place twice a year…” This comes on top of the devastation by the floods themselves, which experts estimated could destroy as much a quarter of the country’s rice crop. Given that Thailand is the largest rice exporter in the world (though it may soon lose that designation), this is not just a local matter. (more…)

Egypt’s Political Transition and the Rising Sea: An Opportunity for Reform

Last January, on the heels of a successful popular revolution in Tunisia, Egyptians decided that they wanted to govern themselves as well. This led to the eventual overthrow of the 30-year Mubarak regime. Since then, the Egyptian path to democracy has been challenged, with the country’s military elite largely filling the empty spaces of power.

But while this political transition stumbles forward uncertainly, with the forces of reaction threatening to nip progress towards democracy in the bud, another less political threat looms. The health of the Nile Delta. (more…)

The Global Resiliency Market

There’s a new gold rush on, but it’s not about gold. It’s about land. More specifically, it’s about buying and selling land, food, water, and ultimately, resilience. A number of countries, short on arable land and water, are investing in a sort of global insurance policy. Countries like China, Saudi Arabia and South Korea, with significant portions of their countries operating beyond their own water budgets, are busy making up the difference by buying up lands in water and soil-rich areas of Africa, South America and South Asia, growing crops on the acquired land and then shipping the crops (and the embedded or “virtual” water that went into growing them) back to their respective countries. The sellers, on the other hand, are giving up land, water and future resilience for, in some instances, pocket change (see Lester Brown). One might call this the “global resiliency market,” and as with any market, there are serious risks for all who participate.
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