Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Friday, January 24, 2014

Climate change and food security at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos

22 January 2014. Davos. Switserland. Climate change is on the agenda at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos

In anticipation of the forum, the WEF released the results of its survey “Global Risks 2014,” which measured perceptions of global risks among its “multi-stakeholder community” of global leaders in the business, government and non-profit sectors. 

Significantly, the results demonstrated that climate change is ranked in the top five of perceived global risks, and three of the other top ten risks have explicit relationships with climate change (those being food and water crises and extreme weather events). 

The “food crises” risk is listed in the report under the “societal” category, and defined as “access to appropriate quantities and quality of food and nutrition becomes inadequate or unreliable.” 

There is growing evidence that climate change can have a significant influence on food security. For example, two recent peer-reviewed studies assert a 70 and 80% likelihood (respectively) that the Russian heat wave of 2010 was attributable to climate change. According to a journal article by Oxford University’s Troy Strernberg inNature magazine, this event “reduced the wheat harvest by 32.7%,” while the 2010 drought in China had a marked impact on global food prices and food security in North Africa and the Middle East. According to our own research, a prolonged drought in Syria from 2006-2011, part of a drying trend likely associated with climate change, contributed to the decimation of nearly 75% of Syria’s crops.

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