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Feeding Resilience

Climate Change and The Security Case for Agricultural Adaptation Investment

Policy Dialogue Roundtable · 26 September 2023, Washington, DC.

Goal: Understand and document the different issues, approaches, and advances to address the nexus of food security, climate change, and agriculture adaptation, by identifying U.S. national security implications stemming from the nexus of international food security and climate change challenges. This conversation will use Nigeria as a case study to illustrate these challenges.

Format: Moderated roundtable discussion. The roundtable will start with brief presentations from our guest discussants, followed by a conversation with participants and Q&A sessions. Breakfast will be provided to encourage further exchange and networking.

Location: 1025 Connecticut Ave. NW, Farragut Conference Room, 10th Floor, and online.

Event agenda

9::00 amRegistration, Networking, Breakfast
9:30Welcome remarks
Tom Ellison, Deputy Director, Center for Climate and Security (CCS)
Patricia Parera, Senior Research Fellow, CCS
9:45Introduction of first round of discussants

Jyotsna (Jo) Puri [v], Associate Vice-President International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

Yemi Akinbamijo, Immediate Past Executive Director, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA)

Aditi Mukherji [v], Director of Climate Change Impact Platform, CGIAR
10:20: Moderator provides expectations about the discussion session
10:30First round of Q&A and discussion
11:00Introduction of second round of discussants

Louise Cord, Global Director for Social Sustainability and Inclusion, The World Bank

Benjamin Muskovitz, Senior Policy Advisor, U.S. Special Envoy for Global Food Security
11:30Second round of Q&A and discussion
11:50Concluding remarks and next steps
Patricia Parera

Additional readings

Report: Feeding Resilience: A Review of Policies at the Intersection of Climate Change, Food Security and National Security Policy

The Center for Climate and Security. Authored by Patricia Parera and Brigitte Hugh. Edited by Tom Ellison and Francesco Femia. August 2023.

Participant biographies


Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo is an Agricultural Research for Development expert with a track record of leadership in Food/Nutrition Security, Rural Development, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. He is the immediate past Executive Director of FARA 2013-23. Before then, Dr. Akinbamijo served as the Head of Agriculture and Food Security Division at the African Union Commission Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. With more than 30 years in the practice of agriculture and rural development, he has served with increasing responsibilities and leadership roles in institutions with national, regional and continental mandates. Dr Akinbamijo is a former university lecturer and obtained his PhD in Agriculture and Environmental Sciences from the Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands.

Louise Cord is the Global Director for Social Sustainability and Inclusion in the World Bank’s Sustainable Development Practice Group. Prior to this, Ms. Cord was the Country Director for Senegal, Cabo Verde, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, and Mauritania, based in Dakar, Senegal. Prior to her appointment as Country Director, she was Practice Manager in the Poverty Global Practice responsible for Latin America and the Caribbean. Ms. Cord holds a Ph.D. in development economics from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. She has published on rural poverty, pro-poor growth, and inclusive growth challenges and strategies in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Aditi Mukherji is a Director, Climate Change Impact Platform of the CGIAR and is based in Nairobi, Kenya. Earlier, she was a Principal Researcher at the International Water Management Institute based in India, and before that she led the Water and Air Theme at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Nepal. Dr. Mukherji was a Coordinating Lead Author (CLA) of the Water Chapter in the Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published in February 2022, and a member, Core Writing Team of the IPCC’s AR6 Synthesis Report which was published in March 2023. Her areas of specialization are climate change impacts and adaptation, groundwater governance, energy-irrigation nexus, and community management of water resources.

Benjamin Muskovitz is Senior Policy Advisor, Special Envoy for Global Food Security, U.S. Department of State. His portfolio includes providing strategic/political advice to Special Envoy Dr. Cary Fowler.  His portfolio includes leadership on the inter-agency; the NSC; the intelligence community, USDA, foreign assistance, program budgeting and all humanitarian/emergency assistance programs.  Previously he served as the Senior Director in USDA’s International Food Assistance Division. He previously held positions at USDA, the U.S. Department of State, USAID, and several private sector firms specializing in International Development. 

Jyotsna (Jo) Puri is the Associate Vice-President – Strategy and Knowledge Department (SKD) at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). She leads the organization’s strategy work in IFAD’s key areas targeting agriculture, climate, gender, nutrition, youth and social inclusion. Puri provides the vision for evidence-informed advice on program designs and implementation, contributing to resource mobilization, and supporting IFAD’s global remit in providing state-of the art policy advice related to these topics.  Puri has worked previously at the Green Climate Fund, 3ie, UNEP, the World Bank and UNDP. She is also adjunct associate professor at Columbia University, New York, where she was also a research scientist. She has published in many academic journals and written for newspapers and provided advice as a board member to several development organizations. In 2019, Puri was selected as one of 16 women who have shown leadership in restoring the earth through their efforts, by the Global Landscape Forum. She holds a PhD and MSc in Agriculture and Resource Economics and an MA in Development Economics.


Rose Barbuto is a Senior Policy Adviser at the Farm Journal Foundation, where she leads advocacy efforts with U.S. farmers, producers, and next generation populations to advance global food security and foster economic development through agriculture. Ms. Barbuto joined the Foundation after serving as the Country Coordinator for the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Sierra Leone and Liberia, where she managed Ebola response and recovery projects in both countries. Previously, she served as a Director of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response in Liberia, leading a team which helped end the Ebola outbreak.

Brigadier General J. Robert “Bob” Barnes, United States Army (Retired) is Senior Policy Advisor and member of the Advisory Board at the Center for Climate and Security, where he provides policy advice on addressing the national and international security implications of climate change. He is a recognized expert on environmental security, interagency and public-private collaboration on climate change and other environmental matters with national security implications. From 2002 to 2014, Bob served as a Senior Policy Advisor for The Nature Conservancy (TNC), focusing on the intersection of the protection, conservation, and restoration of natural systems and biodiversity and national security

Elsa Barron is a Research Fellow at the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), an institute of the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR). She is also the Co-Chair of the Young Professionals Interest Group at the Environmental Peacebuilding Association. She has worked on environment, climate, and peace-related research and advocacy at the Institute for Climate and Peace, Faith in Place, the Payne Institute for Public Policy, the Wilson Center Environmental Change and Security Program, and the NGO Committee on Financing for Development. Ms. Barron is the host of the environmental peacebuilding podcast, Olive Shoot, which highlights reasons for hope in the midst of the climate crisis through global grassroots action. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame with majors in biological sciences and peace studies and a minor in sustainability. 

James Catto is the Director of the Office of International Development Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, leading work across a wide range of development topics, including food security, global health and pandemic preparedness, social and financial inclusion, fragility, and development effectiveness. Mr. Catto represents the U.S. government and the Treasury to the governing bodies of several bilateral and multilateral institutions, including the U.S. Development Finance Corporation (DFC), the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP). Prior to his appointment, Mr. Catto served as the Acting U.S. Executive Director to the InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB). Previous roles at Treasury included Deputy Director in the Office of the Western Hemisphere and policy advisor for Western Hemisphere issues in the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes. Prior to joining the Department of the Treasury, Mr. Catto was a diplomat with the U.S. Department of State specializing in economic and financial issues. Before entering government service, Mr. Catto worked for Chemonics International, a private sector development firm based in Washington D.C. He also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bolivia. Mr. Catto received an International MBA from the University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business and completed undergraduate studies in anthropology at the College of Charleston, South Carolina.

John Conger is Director Emeritus of the Center for Climate and Security, Senior Advisor to the Council on Strategic Risks, and Senior U.S. Advisor to the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS). Mr. Conger previously served as Director and Senior Policy Advisor with the Center for Climate and Security, and as the Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) at the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). Prior to his service as Deputy Comptroller, Mr. Conger oversaw energy, installations and environmental policy throughout DoD in three different positions: as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment, as Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations & Environment, and as Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations & Environment from 2009 to 2015.

Oko Victor Ehoche is a Scientific officer at the Environmental Biotechnology and Bio-conservation department of Nigeria’s National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Abuja. His role focuses on the conceptualization of original scientific research and leveraging research findings to inform policy positions relating to environmental conservation Biotechnology. He is a postgraduate student at the department of Environmental Biology, University of Abuja-Nigeria where he is investigating the ecosystem disruptive effects of some agriculturally relevant xenobiotics. He is interested in emergent biological threats associated with anthropogenic activities and is committed to building a career in ecological security with a view to contributing to efforts by governments in Sub-Saharan Africa and the global south to develop policies and strengthen institutional frameworks to ensure ecosystem integrity.

Jana El-Horr is a social development specialist at the World Bank. She works on social dimensions of conflict and violence, political economy, community-driven approaches and youth inclusion. Prior to joining the World Bank, Ms. Elhorr worked extensively in Iraq and Lebanon on post-conflict reconstruction and women and youth economic inclusion. Ms. Elhorr holds a doctorate in Conflict Studies from George Mason University, and a BA in economics from the American University of Beirut.

Tom Ellison is Deputy Director of the Center for Climate and Security (CCS). Prior to joining CCS, he spent a decade in the US intelligence community, where he helped expand analysis of the security and foreign policy implications of climate change for senior policymakers across the U.S. government. Previously, he received commendations for intelligence analysis of terrorist threats, insurgencies, and political turmoil during the Arab Spring. He has traveled extensively in Europe and the Middle East, including war zones. Mr. Ellison holds an M.A. in Security Studies from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Political Science from Colgate University. 

Dr. Cullen Hendrix is Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and Senior Research Advisor at the Center for Climate & Security. Recently, Dr. Hendrix was a Specially Appointed Research Professor at Hiroshima University in Japan, where he is a researcher with the Network for Education and Research on Peace and Sustainability (NERPS). Prior to joining PIIE full-time, he was Professor of International Studies at the Korbel School, University of Denver. He has 30+ peer-reviewed articles on the relationships between international markets, natural resources, and conflict, as well as the economic and security implications of climate change.

Brigitte Hugh is a Research Fellow at the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), an institute of the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR). Prior to joining CCS, she worked on a range of climate security topics at the Woodrow Wilson Center, the United Nations Foundation, and the International Water Management Institute. Ms. Hugh holds an M.S. in Political Science with an emphasis in Anticipatory Intelligence, and a B.A. in Political Science from Utah State University. During her Master’s degree, she was part of the inaugural cohort of the Center for Anticipatory Intelligence (CAI) at Utah State, which emphasizes the importance of cross-disciplinary knowledge and cooperation for anticipating and building resilience against future security risks.

Benjamin Hunt is a Senior Policy Advocate for International Climate and Policy where he works on the Policy and Government Affairs team to advance WWF’s strategic priorities related to international climate finance and policy. Mr. Hunt works with key stakeholders including the US Congress, US Government agencies, multilateral and bilateral institutions, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations to strengthen international efforts on climate change and investment. He is focused on advancing support for bilateral and multilateral climate change programs like the Green Climate Fund, US foreign policy and foreign assistance with respect to climate resilience/adaptation and nature-based solutions, and engagement with the G7, G20, and UN General Assembly.

Chris Kennedy is a Senior Economist in the Office of the Chief Economist, U.S. Department of State. Previously, he served as the Director for Climate and Environmental Security on the U.S. National Security Council. Mr. Kennedy joined the Department of State in 2019 as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow. From 2011 to 2019, he served as an academic economist in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University.

Richard G. Kidd IV is a member of the Center for Climate and Security’s Advisory Board. He joins the board following over 31 years of combined Federal service, including Senior Executive Service assignments in three federal agencies and the White House. Additionally, he has been an international civil servant with over five years of work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme. Richard’s most recent position was serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment and Energy Security. In this role, he provided strategic direction and programmatic oversight to the Department’s environmental stewardship and energy resilience efforts. 

Dr. Marcus D. King is the Vice Chair, Treasurer and Secretary of the Council on Strategic Risks Governing Board. He is also a Senior Fellow and member of the Advisory Board at the Center for Climate and Security. He has extensive experience with climate change and energy issues in academia, policy-research organizations and the U.S. government. Dr. King is a Professor of the Practice in Environment and International Affairs at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and Earth Commons Institute. Formerly, he was the John O. Rankin Associate Professor of International Affairs and Director of the International Affairs Program at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. King’s teaching and academic research focus on the field of environmental security. His recent book, “Weaponizing Water: Water Stress and Islamic Extremist Violence in Africa and the Middle East” examines linkages between water scarcity and violent extremism.

Josh Klein, Senior Professional Staff Member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Majority): Josh serves as Chairman Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff lead for International Energy, Environment, Oceans, and Economic Development Policy. Josh has served on the Foreign Relations Committee for six years and has worked in the U.S. Senate for 14 years. Josh is the lead staff person on matters concerning foreign assistance, global energy security, the Paris Agreement, Montreal Protocol, Basel Convention, Wildlife Trafficking, Global Resilience and Food Security, and oversight of USAID. Prior to joining the Committee’s staff, Josh was Sen. Ben Cardin’s (D-MD) Senior Policy Advisor for Environment, Transportation, Agriculture and Public Lands. Before coming to the U.S. Senate, Josh worked in the national environmental NGO community, at organizations including American Rivers and the Clean Water Network, on Clean Water Act policy.

Katrina Kosec is a senior research fellow in the Poverty, Gender, and Inclusion Unit at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) where she leads the CGIAR research program on Fragility, Conflict, and Migration as well as a cluster of research under the CGIAR research program on Gender Equality focused on women’s voice and agency in governance. She is also a Lecturer in Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University. Her research focuses on the linkages between governance, fragility, gender, and poverty. She received her Ph.D. in Political Economics from Stanford University.

Jordan Kyle is a research fellow in the Poverty, Gender, and Inclusion Unit of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), where she studies how to improve delivery of public services and aid programs as well as voice and political inclusion. She was previously a policy analyst at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and a senior fellow at the Tony Blair Institute. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University, where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.

David Nielson is a development economist with a focus on agriculture and rural development. With nearly 30 years as Lead Agriculture Economist at the World Bank, Dr. Nielson’s work in agricultural development has been global in scope. Dr. Nielson for many years led the development and implementation of World Bank support for agricultural research in Africa. He also led World Bank support for agricultural extension and advisory service programs and led the revival of World Bank support for the development of human capital in African agriculture. Dr. Nielson currently serves as Strategic Advisor to Africa’s xP4 institutions as well as to the North American Agricultural Advisory Network. He also serves as Chairperson for RUFORUM’s International Advisory Panel. Dr. Nielson holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago and a M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Minnesota. 

Olamide Olowoyo is a Ph.D. researcher in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education, Virginia Tech with a strong passion for sustainable agricultural development, food security, and climate change. His research explores collaborative leadership’s role in promoting climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. Through his interdisciplinary and innovative research approach, Mr. Olowoyo seeks to contribute to solving the pressing environmental challenges. He has worked as a researcher in Nigeria with various organizations and on projects that aimed at ensuring food security, promoting a sustainable environment, and improving farmers’ income and livelihoods. 

Patricia Parera is Senior Research Fellow with the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) where she leads on the nexus of climate change, ecological security, and food security. Previously, she served as Associate Director for Partnerships and Global Initiatives at Virginia Tech where she also was a lecturer on sustainable development. Parera was previously a senior operations officer and social safeguards specialist with the World Bank’s Sustainable Development Division for Latin America where she managed and supervised agricultural technology projects and operations to improve seed production systems to increase food security and nutrition in Nicaragua. Before the World Bank, Ms. Parera was a policy officer for the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). She holds a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and a B.A. in Linguistics from the National University of Cordoba, Argentina. She is also a graduate of the Harvard Block School of Education Certificate Program.

Greg Pollock is the Principal Director for Arctic & Global Resilience Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense. He has served for the past decade in a series of leadership positions in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy. Pollock served from 2019-2021 as the Secretary of Defense Chair on the faculty of the National War College, where he taught courses on national security strategy, U.S.-China relations, and the implications of global climate change for national security. From 2017-2019, Mr. Pollock was the acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Security Cooperation, overseeing the Department’s efforts to enhance the ability of U.S. allies and partners to conduct military operations in lieu of, or in coalition with, U.S. forces around the world. Prior to his government service, Mr. Pollock was an Advocacy and Research Officer at the International Crisis Group, a leading source of analysis and advice to governments concerning international conflict. 

Michael Werz is a senior fellow at American Progress and a senior adviser for North America and multilateral affairs to the Munich Security Conference. His work is focused on the nexus of climate change, migration, and security and emerging countries, especially Turkey, Mexico, and Brazil. He is the co-director of Nexus25. Previously, he was a senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund working on transatlantic foreign policy and the European Union. He has held appointments as a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., and as a John F. Kennedy Memorial Fellow at Harvard’s Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies. Werz has published numerous articles and several books dealing with a wide range of scholarly and policy issues, including race and ethnicity in the 20th century; Western social and intellectual history; minorities in Europe and the United States; ethnic conflicts, politics in Europe, and anti-Americanism. He is a graduate of Frankfurt University’s Institute for Philosophy, a former professor at Hannover University in Germany, and a former and adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s BMW Center for German and European Studies.

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