The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) jointly hosted the International Conference on Climate Change and Food Security (ICCCFS) November 6-8, 2011 in Beijing, China. This conference provided a forum for leading international scientists and young researchers to present their latest research findings, exchange their research ideas, and share their experiences in the field of climate change and food security. The event included technical sessions, poster sessions, and social events. (View some of the presentations here.) The conference results and recommendations were presented at the global climate talks in Durban, South Africa during an official side event on December 1. Read news coverage of the recommendations here.
The papers presented at the International Conference on Food Security and Climate Change highlighted many daunting challenges facing agriculture’s capacity to meet the world’s food security needs over the next four decades. A series of occasional blog posts will attempt to summarize some of the key challenges that countries will face in the near future, and how these challenges are going to affect agriculture and food security. The first challenge addressed is the growing world population.
Food insecurity (malnutrition, undernourishment, famine, etc.) has many causes; the available food supply is only one contributing factor. Economists have pointed out that famine is as much a political and social issue as it is a production and supply issue. Case in point, the world population recently passed the 7 billion mark, and while we produce enough food to feed everyone, market failures (i.e. poor transportation infrastructure, trade barriers) prevent the adequate distribution of essential food-stuffs to millions of people. In fact, more than 21% of children under 5 are malnourished worldwide, with almost 14% of the 7 billion people suffering from undernourishment. There are many factors that contribute to food insecurity worldwide, such as poverty, climatic shocks, and political instability. The following examples illustrate how these factors have influenced food insecurity in the past. Continue reading