Chatham House Food security conference

The conferenceoffered a comprehensive assessment of the threats to global food security and identified priorities for action. Particular focus was given to addressing vulnerabilities in the global supply chain, the impacts of climate change, and instability in the global food market.

Attendees heard from food manufacturers, traders and retailers as well as representatives of key export and import dependent countries. Discussion considered what is needed from national policy, new business practice and international collaboration in order to mitigate these risks and improve resilience.

Agricultural trade policies in the EU and US will continue to promote farm security, and emerging economies will increase their role in the global food trade with increasing farm support, whereas poorer countries will be unable to protect and support their weak producers in the absence of adequate resilience tools, and safeguards against food dumping. Christian Häberli World trade Institute (WTI) senior researcher 

Mapping the Risks
  • What are the key risks – by likelihood and severity – that require monitoring and managing?
  • Which countries, populations and businesses face the greatest challenges?
  • What new threats have recently been identified and what impact may they have?
  • What tools can help to predict improbable, but catastrophic, ‘worst case scenarios’?
  • To what extent does food insecurity threaten global political stability?

Identifying vulnerabilities in the global supply chain

  • Which trade routes are of critical importance to the global food system?
  • Where are the respective choke points for import-dependent countries and major export countries?
  • What are the challenges facing strategic infrastructure, storage and distribution? 
  • How can businesses identify supply chain risks of strategic importance? What strategies can help to improve resilience? What are the implications for food security policies?

Governing the global food market

  • Does current market regulation sufficiently incorporate food security?
  • How are EU, US and OECD agricultural trade policies likely to evolve?
  • How are emerging economies approaching a greater role in the food trade? 
  • What impact will emerging multilateral and bilateral trade agreements have?
  • What is needed in order to protect the imports of the world’s most food insecure countries? 
  • What financial tools can help to transfer risk and ensure a more resilient agricultural trade? Does current regulation of the commodities market contribute to food security?

The Impacts of Climate Change

  • In the light of recent climate science, what are the opportunities and challenges for future food production and distribution?
  • To what extent will climate change cause a long-term reconfiguration of global supply chains?
  • How can the global food system be made more resilient to extreme weather shocks?
  • Can the impacts of climate change on agriculture mobilize support for mitigation measures?

Stabilising Supply

  • How can national investments in agriculture – both domestic and overseas – mitigate supply risks? What role should private sector investment play?
  • Do new business practices offer opportunities to manage risks across the supply chain? What investment is required? How can public policy support these efforts?
  • How can strategic food reserves provide a defence against food shocks? Is multilateral coordination possible?
  • What are the linkages between water security and the global food system? How can coordinated action stabilise food supply? 
  • Can regional cooperation manage collective risk?

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