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Feeding Resilience

Addressing the interplay of climate change, food, and national security

Policy Dialogue Roundtable · 12 June 2023, Washington, DC.

Goal: Understand and document the different issues, approaches and advances to address the nexus of food security, climate 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 Ethiopia as a case study to illustrate these challenges.

Objective: To consult with experts and practitioners about the nexus between climate change, food security and US national security to educate and create awareness among policy and decision makers.

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

Event agenda

8:15-8:30 amRegistration & Breakfast
8:30-8:40Welcome remarks
Erin Sikorsky, Director, Center for Climate and Security (CCS)
Patricia Parera, Senior Research Fellow, CCS
Erin Sikorsky (Moderator)
8:45-9:45Panel Discussion
CDR Chris “ASOS” McCook, USN. Chief, Strategic Risk Branch (J5S3), USAFRICOM [v]
Joanna Veltri, Chief Liaison Officer, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
Ousmane Dione, Country Director, Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan, The World Bank
Ann Vaughan, Senior Advisor for Climate Change, Bureau for Resilience & Food Security, United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Chase Sova, Senior Director of Public Policy & Research, World Food Program USA (WFP-USA)
Zitouni Ould-Dada, Deputy Director, Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment (OCB), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations [v]
10:00-10:10Introduction to discussion session
Erin Sikorsky (Moderator)
10:10-11:30Q&A and discussion session
Attendees are encouraged to present their own perspectives, brief background of their organizations and work related to climate resilience, food security and national/global security.
11:30-11:40Concluding remarks and next steps
Patricia Parera

Participant biographies


Ousmane Dione, a Senegalese national, is the Country Director for Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Sudan, in the Eastern and Southern Africa Region. In this role, he focuses on top four priorities, i.e.: (i) work closely with the clients and development partners to develop and implement the Bank’s country partnership strategy, with a particular focus on inclusive growth, resilience, employment generation and scaling up services delivery; (ii) lead the Bank’s country team, to continue improving the impact of the World Bank’s large portfolio in Ethiopia in supporting the Government’s growth and resilience agenda; as well as promote growth and poverty reduction in South Sudan and Sudan, including oversight of the work programs in Khartoum and Juba; offices and (iii) coordinate the re-engagement with Eritrea; and (iv) lead and support staff in implementing the priorities of the new Africa Strategy while adjusting to corporate opportunities. 

Since joining the Bank in 2000 as a water resources management specialist, Dione has held several operational and leadership positions in Africa, South Asia, Latin America and in East Asia. His most recent assignment was as Country Director for Vietnam, in the East Asia and the Pacific Region. 

Ousmane brings to Eastern and Southern Africa more than 22 years of experience leading water, urban and environment programs in Africa, South Asia, Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and East Asia and the Pacific. He holds a Ph.D. in Water Resources Engineering from the University of Lyon.

Dr. Zitouni Ould-Dada is currently Deputy Director in the Climate and Environment Division at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome. Before joining FAO, he worked as Head of the Technology Unit at UNEP in Paris for 5 years. Prior to that, he worked for the British Government for 15 years holding several senior positions at the Department of Energy and Climate Change; the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; the Food Standards Agency; Environment Agency; and the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food. He also worked for the French government on international climate change during France’s Presidency of the European Union in 2008. His 22 years of international work experience covers a wide range of fields including environmental policy; climate change; energy policy; technology and innovation; agriculture and food security; radiation protection; and the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. 

Chase Sova is senior director of Public Policy and Thought Leadership at World Food Program USA (WFP USA) and Senior Associate (non-resident) with the Center for Strategic and International Studies Global Food Security Program. Previously, Chase worked with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). He has consulted with the World Bank, Johns Hopkins, and Tufts University. Interested in the intersection of food insecurity and conflict, humanitarian assistance, climate change, and sustainable agriculture, Chase has worked on food systems in 15 developing countries across Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. He has led several major research initiatives including WFP USA’s Winning the Peace: Hunger and Instability flagship report. Chase has served as an expert witness at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, his writing has been featured extensively in peer-reviewed journals, and he regularly lectures on food insecurity at Universities in Washington, D.C. He delivered a TEDx talk on “Winning the Long Game in the Fight to End Hunger” in 2018. Chase earned his Ph.D. from Oxford University.

Ann Vaughan joined the Biden-Harris Administration in February, 2021 and works in USAID’s Bureau for the Resilience and Food Security (RFS) as a Senior Advisor for Climate Change. Ann co-leads the implementation of the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE) and works across RFS to integrate climate considerations across food, water and nutrition programming. Prior to joining USAID, Ann worked at Mercy Corps, served as a field officer for USAID in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as a Congressional staffer working on foreign aid appropriations and as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua.  She has her Master’s in International Development Studies from George Washington University and an Undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary.

Joanna Veltri is the chief of IFAD’s Americas Liaison Office (ALO), which is responsible for IFAD engagement and partnerships with governmental, legislative, civil society, philanthropic, and private sector entities in the United States, Canada, and Latin America, as well as with multilateral organizations (including other United Nations bodies, multilateral development banks, and the IMF). Veltri joined IFAD in March 2019 after nearly 18 years at the United States Treasury Department’s International Affairs (IA) division. Most recently, she served as Director of the International Development Policy (IDP) office, where she led a team focused on development issues – including food security, low-income countries (LICs), LIC debt issues, financial inclusion, gender, domestic revenue mobilization, environment finance, and corruption.


Joshua Busby is a Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin. In 2021-2022, he served as a Senior Advisor for Climate at the U.S. Department of Defense. He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed papers and think tank articles on climate change and security including his most recent book States and Nature: The Effects of Climate Change on Security (Cambridge University Press, 2022). He has a Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown University.

Lt. Gen. John “Glad” Castellaw USMC (retired)  is co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Farmspace Systems LLC., a provider of aerial data collection, management, and equipment. During a 36-year career he led Marines around the world ashore and afloat, flew over two dozen different aircraft, served on the UN staff during the Siege of Sarajevo, planned and executed humanitarian operations in Asia, Africa, and Europe, commanded the American forces in stability and security operations in East Timor, and was the chief of staff for the U.S. Central Command during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His final assignments were in the Pentagon where he oversaw Marine Aviation and the Marine Corps budget. A recognized national security expert, he has testified before a Senate committee on food security and is affiliated with several Washington based think tanks providing expertise on the impacts of climate, food, and energy insecurity. He frequently travels overseas recently visiting Cuba, Israel, Qatar, the Central African Republic, Rwanda, and Australia. He lives on and operates his family farm in Crockett County, Tennessee.

Dr. Chelsea L. Cervantes de Blois is the lead Climate Security Analyst for the Office of the Geographer and Global Issues at the Department of State and works closely with the Presidential Special Envoy for Climate, John Kerry. As a Human Geospatial Geographer, Dr. Cervantes de Blois is an expert in monitoring climate change impacts using spatial modeling from both qualitative and quantitative datasets. Prior to her present position, Dr. Cervantes De Blois worked on extensive collaborations, consultancies, and research with diverse organizations such as the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, the World Bank Group, the German Federal Ministry, the United Nations, and commercial agricultural firms in Serbia, Kyrgyzstan, and the United States. Dr. Cervantes de Blois received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, specializing in Geosciences (Remote Sensing, Cartography and Geographic Information Systems) and Population Studies. She is also an alumna of the Population Trainee Program at the Minnesota Population Center. Dr. Cervantes de Blois earned a Master’s from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia, specializing in regional languages of Eurasia and the Caucasus. She earned her undergraduate Bachelor of Science from UW-Madison’s Soil Sciences and Agriculture and Applied Economics.

Dr. Cervantes de Blois’ passion for climate change sprouted when she worked on climate-diplomacy initiatives as an intern with the Department of State’s Todd Stern’s Special Envoy for Climate Change team.

True Claycombe Pfeifer is a Senior Program Officer in Federal Affairs at the Gates Foundation and her portfolio includes global food security, agriculture, nutrition and climate. Prior to this role, True was the Director of Policy at the Kyle House Group (KHG), an international affairs consulting firm focused on development and global health issues. Before KHG, True worked at Friends of the Global Fight, an advocacy organization working on behalf of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. True received her master’s in international development from the School of International Service at American University, where she spent a summer working in Cambodia on a latrine supply chain analysis project. True began her career on Capitol Hill where she worked for Congressman David McKinley. Originally from Nashville, TN, True went to the University of Georgia for her undergraduate studies and now lives in Washington DC with her husband and daughter.

Ambassador Ertharin Cousin currently serves as the CEO and Managing Director of Food Systems for the Future, a nutrition impact investment fund; a Distinguished Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs; a Bosch Academy, Robert Weizsäcker Fellow; and a Visiting Scholar at the Stanford University, Center on Food Security and Environment.

From 2012 until 2017, Cousin led the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). As Executive Director, Cousin guided the 14,000-member WFP team feeding more than 80 million people each year.

In 2009, Cousin was nominated and confirmed as the US Ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome. Prior to her global hunger work, Cousin helped lead the U.S. domestic fight to end hunger including service as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of America’s Second Harvest – now Feeding America.

Cousin is currently a member of the Bayer AG Supervisory Board, the Mondelez International Board of Directors, the Royal DSM Sustainability Board, and a Trustee of the African agriculture think tank Academia2063.

Cousin is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago; the University of Georgia Law School and the University of Chicago Executive Management Program-Finance for Non-Financial Executives.

Sukhraj Kaur is an analyst in the Humanitarian Information Unit, which is part of the Office of the Geographer and Global Issues in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the U.S. Department of State. Her portfolio includes global food security and humanitarian issues. She received her BA in Government and International Politics and MA in Political Science at George Mason University.  She has worked at the Department of State since 2014.  

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 since 2009. 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 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. 

Laura Malenas joined the ICRC’s Washington Delegation as a Policy Advisor in 2022. She is the delegation’s lead touch point on policy issues related to the ICRC’s work in Africa, Eurasia, Food Security and Global Health. As a policy advisor, Ms. Malenas is responsible for advancing the delegation’s humanitarian policy priorities and engaging U.S. stakeholders across sectors.

Prior to joining the ICRC, Ms. Malenas served as a political officer in the United States Foreign Service for more than twenty years, with diplomatic assignments in Israel, Malaysia, Oman, Georgia, and Germany. She also served as a foreign policy fellow in the office of U.S. Senator Chris Murphy.  In her last assignment at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, she was the Director of Energy Diplomacy for the Middle East and Asia, focusing on international energy policy to support the clean energy transition and increased climate ambition.

Eric Muñoz leads Oxfam America’s work at the intersection of food security and climate justice. He manages a team that advances program, policy and advocacy initiatives that address agriculture’s potential to end hunger and poverty and respond to climate change. Since joining Oxfam in 2010, Eric has contributed to the development of community-based sustainable agriculture programs and led advocacy initiatives on the US Farm Bill, the Feed the Future initiative and the Global Food Security Act, as well as reform of US food aid programs. He collaborates with Oxfam and partners, including in Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Ghana, and Ethiopia, to encourage governments to increase spending on and improve policies that benefit small-scale food producers. Eric supports Oxfam America’s work on agriculture development initiatives such as re-greening the Sahel, an effort to scale agro-forestry practices across West Africa.

Borges Nhamirre is a Mozambican researcher with more than 15 years of experience in governance, elections and security studies. He has an MSc degree in Security Studies from Joaquim Chissano University, Maputo, a degree in international relations and diplomacy from the High Institute of International Relations, Maputo, and a law degree from Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo. Nhamirre is a senior researcher with the Maputo-based Center for Public Integrity on Governance and Senior Research Consultant with the Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria.

Chloe Noel is the Climate Advisor, Global Development Policy at Save the Children. She focuses on elevating children’s voices and participation in climate policy and increasing US government support for climate adaptation. She worked for more than 15 years in the faith-based advocacy community on policies such as international climate finance, human rights, trade, food security, and domestic environmental issues including environmental health. Chloe has supported indigenous communities, smallholder farmers, women, and other populations from Latin America, Asia, and Africa to speak directly with policymakers about US policies or security threats in their countries that impact their lives. Chloe holds BA degrees in Environmental Studies and Hispanic Studies from Mills College and a MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. 

Oshani Perera has 16 years of experience providing advice and advocacy in 25 countries, on sustainable infrastructure, nature-based solutions, public procurement, sustainable finance, foreign direct investment, ESG, and sustainability reporting. She co-founded the Shamba Centre to find systemic ways to make food systems more sustainable. 

Before setting up the Shamba Centre, Oshani worked with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), McKinsey & Company, KPMG, and UNEP.  She brokered and co-designed a landmark partnership between IISD, the Global Environment Facility, the MAVA Foundation, and UNIDO on Nature-based Infrastructure. She also co-designed the Sustainable Asset Valuation (SAVi), which uses systems dynamics and project finance to calculate the risks and externalities of infrastructure projects. To promote blended capital for sustainable ventures, Oshani also co-designed an inventory of over 100 credit enhancement products. 

Oshani has served on expert groups of the European Union, the OECD and the International Olympic Council. She was twice shortlisted for The Economist essay competition and was featured as a hero by the MAVA Foundation. In her private capacity, she continues to work on vegan foods and regenerative agriculture.  

Oshani holds a BSC in Business from Cornell University/University of St Gallen, a MSc in Economic Policy from the University of Strathclyde and an MSc in Environmental Technology from the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. She was born in Sri Lanka and has lived and worked in Europe, Asia and Africa including Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana.

Claudia Sanchez de Lozada is the Senior Manager for Climate and Environment on the Global Development Policy and Learning team at InterAction. In her role, she leads InterAction’s NGO Climate Compact, which currently has close to 100 INGO signatories from both the development and humanitarian sectors. Claudia also heads all of InterAction’s climate-centered working groups, focusing on international climate finance advocacy, climate mainstreaming across all sectors, and internal sustainability.

 She has over 15 years of experience in environmental risk assessment and natural resource management in the private and development sectors, where she worked as an international environmental consultant. During her prior work experience, Claudia managed international environmental litigations, environmental impact studies, and due diligence assessments throughout Latin America, Africa, and the United States. Claudia holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Management from Yale’s School of the Environment, where she focused on ecosystem-based adaptation practices for water resource management in Indigenous communities.

Colonel Neil Snyder serves as Assistant Deputy Director for Counter Threats and International Cooperation in the Directorate for Strategy, Plans and Policy, the Pentagon. The deputy directorate advises the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on all global and functional matters pertaining to stability and humanitarian engagement, security cooperation activities, the Chairman’s mission to the United Nations, countering weapons of mass destruction, countering violent extremist organizations, climate, arctic, and maritime operations. 

COL Snyder is a native of Tallahassee, Florida. He was commissioned in 1998 as a Field Artillery Officer from Duke University through Reserve Officers Training Corps. 

COL Snyder has commanded Field Artillery units at the battery, battalion, and brigade level, along with service in Light, Airborne, Ranger, and Special Operations Forces. He commanded the 1st Cavalry Division Artillery at Fort Hood, Texas. His operational experience includes combat deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. 

COL Snyder earned a Master of Science in Defense Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School, a Master of Military Arts and Sciences from the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS), and a Doctorate of Political Science (International Relations, American Political Science, Quantitative Methods for Political Analysis) from Stanford University. COL Snyder’s dissertation examines the political influence of American military elites.

COL Snyder is happily married to his wife, Laura, an Assistant Director at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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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