A3 – Food Security and Conflict Risk

Food security has always been high on the political agenda. The Arab Spring and the financial crisis in 2008 have even increased its prominence, since both were directly related to high food prices. Future uncertainty regarding economic development, international relations and population growth have resulted in fears regarding social insecurity for those living in net food importing countries and /or food insecure countries. Climate changes impacts add on these uncertainties: the IPCC 2014 report concludes that changes in precipitation and tempera-ture could cause global food prices to double by 2050.

Insufficient local food production, rising food prices, and related broader food insecurities, cannot be regarded as a sole root cause for riots or conflict. Within a context of social and economic inequality or perspective, unequal access to food, existing corruption, repression, food insecurities - especially price spikes - may rather function as so-called ‘tipping points’ for the outbreak of already imminent riots or even revolutions, sometimes ending in violent conflict. A study by Besley & Person (2008) finds that as a country’s import prices increase, thereby eroding real incomes, the risk of conflict increases as well. Consequently, a high de-pendence on food import means a high vulnerability for world market volatility. Reducing local vulnerability for climate variability in agricultural systems, population growth and changing urban – rural dynamics thus may also reduce food insecurity.

These food insecurities and related impacts are not new, however, decades of food security aid and development programmes, have yielded mixed results. Climate change adaptation may open new pathways for development to a more food secure world, though, the socio-political issues surrounding food systems should be clear to achieve this. Numerous projects are being implemented combining efforts to increase resilience and improve food security.

In this workshop, we will discuss the relation between food security, socio economic and po-litical instability within the existing global dynamics, from different perspectives as well as future scenario’s. Where is social insecurity most likely due to food insecurities both internal (food production) and external (dependency of imports)? How may the increasing demand from growing cities be ensured and provide opportunities for the local farmers? A resilient, well-informed agricultural sector decreases impacts from climate change and world market dynamics on local food security. Focussing on practical solutions and changing responses, we will give the floor to practitioners from development and policy domains.

Picture credit: Flickr/AusAID