One of the areas hit hardest by changing global weather patterns is the agricultural economy, particularly in developing nations who are believed to be the ones most exposed and vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The publication of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s assessment provides another warning about the escalating threat of global warming and increasing incidents of extreme weather.
But – even more importantly – the effects of climate change are already evident in several regions of the world.
Agriculture is highly sensitive to climate variability and weather extremes. Food prices have spiked on a number of occasions following climate extremes in recent times, driven in particular by poor wheat and maize yields.
The IPCC anticipates with ‘high confidence’ that “projected changes in the frequency and severity of extreme climate events will have more serious consequences for food and forestry production, and food insecurity” in the future.
Furthermore, recent research by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) published at the launch of Oxfam’s Growing a Better Future (GROW) campaign suggested a strong upward trend in world market prices of the main traded staple crops over the next 20 years, with a significant portion of the increase caused by climate change.
It is thought that the effects of climate change, including increased drought, reduced surface and ground water and poorer soil quality, will exacerbate threats to food supply in already food insecure areas – such as sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia. The vulnerability of poor or developing regions also limits their ability to adapt to these extremes.
Speaking at a recent event in London, Rowan Douglas, CEO of Willis’ Capital, Science and Policy division said:
All farmers operate in a system and there is a need to change the rules of the game. This is not to say that insurance should become compulsory for all farmers, but that the risks faced by farmers around the world should be accounted for within the financial system.
Actions to help tackle these growing problems range from new technology to better farming practices and increased investment in developing countries.
Portions of this post originally appeared April 9, 2014 in Agriculture and Food Insecurity: Taking Action in Response to IPCC.