As climate change will affect global agriculture unevenly, international trade rules become more important to feed the world. This is according to a new report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
National agricultural and trade policies may need to be readjusted to help transform the global marketplace into a pillar of food security and a tool for climate change adaptation, the report says. This is because climate change will affect global agriculture unevenly, improving production conditions in some places while negatively affecting others – creating sets of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ along the way.
We must ensure that the evolution and expansion of agricultural trade is equitable and works for the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva
Food production in countries in low latitudes — many already suffering from poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition — will be hit hardest, the report notes. Regions with temperate climates, on the other hand, could see positive impacts as warmer weather lifts agricultural output.
According to FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, to prevent economic and food security gaps between developed and developing countries from widening even further, “we must ensure that the evolution and expansion of agricultural trade is equitable and works for the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.” International trade has the potential to stabilize markets and reallocate food from surplus to deficit regions, helping countries adapt to climate change and contribute to food security”, he wrote in his introduction to the report.
Many countries already rely on international markets as a source of food to meet their deficit, either due to high costs of agricultural production (as for example in countries with limited land and water resources) or when climate or other natural disasters undercut national food production. In general, FAO’s report says that open, predictable and fair international food markets are important for trade to help support food security and climate adaptation. However, while better-integrated markets reinforce the adaptive role of trade to climate change, for countries already highly reliant on food imports, it would deepen that dependence, the report notes. Thus the importance of considering national priorities and objectives.