How will climate change affect food security? Symposium searches for answers.

Current weather patterns could reduce global food production by two percent every 10 years for the rest of this century, according to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The Chicago Council will host its annual Global Food Security Symposium to discuss solutions for addressing food security in the context of climate change.

Junji Kurokawa/AP/File
A shopper is handed over a pack of sea food stuff he purchased at "Ameyoko" market place in Tokyo in April 2014. The Chicago Council’s 2014 Global Food Security Symposium will address how climate change has affected global food security.

The global food system is growing more fragile. Changing climate and volatile weather patterns threaten global food production and the livelihood of small-scale farmers around the globe. And current weather patterns could reduce food production globally by two percent each decade for the rest of this century, according to The Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

The increase in food prices in 2008, excessive heat and drought resulting in wildfires in Russia in 2010, and most recently the worst drought in more than 100 years in California, all are warning signs that farmers and farmers’ groups, global food producers, industry leaders, researchers, and scientists must address the planet’s food security in the face of weather volatility and climate change.

Fortunately, innovations in fields, farms, kitchens, among businesses, and in laboratories and boardrooms already exist. Family farmers around the globe have begun addressing the climate-food nexus through growing less water intensive crops, drip irrigation, permaculture practices, no till agriculture, and much more.

These and other solutions will be the focus of The Chicago Council’s 2014 Global Food Security Symposium, “Advancing Global Food Security in the Face of Weather Volatility and Climate Change.” This all-day event will address:

  • The climate-food nexus and what it means for food security, conflict, economic growth, and the environment.
  • The most effective approaches to making food systems more resilient to extreme weather and a changing climate.
  • Opportunities to better manage risks to agriculture and food production associated with weather and climate change.
  • The water-agriculture nexus and promising approaches to successfully managing water stresses related to food production.

Global leaders will convene to chart a course for how the US government—in partnership with business, civil society, and international organizations—can advance global food security. The Symposium will include the following speakers: Catherine Bertini, Senior Fellow, Global Agriculture Development Initiative, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs; Lester R. Brown, President, Earth Policy Institute; Howard W. Buffett, Trustee, Howard G. Buffett Foundation; Dan Glickman, Former Secretary, US Department of Agriculture (Co-chair); Rajiv Shah, Administrator, US Agency for International Development; and many more! Food Tank President, Danielle Nierenberg is honored to be participating in the Symposium among these experts! See the full schedule of speakers here.

Many of these participants are working to create resilience in the food system, spreading awareness, and creating solutions to advance global food security. Judith D. Schwartz, journalist and author of Cows Save the Planet and Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth, has taken a look at how our ability to turn crises--climate change, desertification, droughts, floods, wildfires--into opportunities depends on how we treat our soil. And Buffett is working on improving the condition of Africa’s depleted soils and farm income. “Africa needs a ‘brown revolution’ to improve soil quality and increase agricultural productivity,” said Howard G. Buffett, president of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

“With 80 million more mouths to feed each year and with increasing demand for grain-intensive livestock products, the rise in temperature only adds to the stress. If we continue with business as usual on the climate front, it is only a matter of time before what we [saw] in Russia becomes commonplace,” said Brown.

The Symposium will be held in Washington on May 22 and listeners can follow along via live stream. The Chicago Council will be presenting a new report on global food security to kick off the day and Nierenberg will be participating in a discussion about “Climate-Smart Food Security” starting at 10:45 a.m. EST.

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