As the second day of Food Chain Reaction unfolded, players were faced with a new set of global conditions and challenges. From 2025 to 2027, ongoing crises began to ease, with slower global economic growth resulting in lower food demand and falling prices. Food stocks began to build, and weather improved in many regions, enabling farmers to increase production.
In Africa, however, the food situation worsened in the wake of severe drought in the Sahel region, leading to famine in unprepared areas including Chad and Sudan. In response, teams developed new commitments to address growing humanitarian needs.
With conditions improving during this round, the teams focused more acutely on long-term strategies and solutions. There was increased attention to reducing deforestation. New proposals such as carbon taxes were put on the table. And more attention was given to addressing regional water stress.
In the final round of play, representing 2028 to 2030, the global food crisis worsened. Prices again skyrocketed, but did not quite reach the records observed in Round 2. Extreme climate events impacted global production, including a weak monsoon delivering insufficient moisture for crops across India and a strong El Niño that reduced production in Brazil and North America.
Learning the lessons from previous rounds, the teams heightened their collaborative efforts, negotiating among themselves and with the business, investor, and multilateral organization teams to come up with new solutions.
By that time, it had become clear to everyone that no single nation nor organization could alone address the myriad challenges when climate change, social unrest, volatile markets, and urgent humanitarian needs all combine to stress the global food system.
Those themes–global cooperation and collaborative problem-solving–were reinforced in the game’s closing remarks by John Podesta, a former senior advisor to two U.S. presidents and founder of the Center for American Progress. Mr. Podesta warned that many of the challenges presented to the Food Chain Reaction players in the decade between 2020 and 2030 were already becoming visible today, with some disruptions in global food production, supply, demand and prices traced to climate change.
“Over the past two days in this exercise, we saw the risks we face when nations go it alone, and the effort to secure resources becomes competitive rather than cooperative. We also saw the benefits we all accrue when we come together to build a more effective response and more cooperation,” he said.
In the end, Food Chain Reaction participants ended the exercise with a better appreciation of how partnerships such as those they created during their two days together can help shape a more food secure world – and by doing so, enhance security, protect livelihoods, and promote sustainable development. They agreed to continue this dialogue when they returned to their home countries, sharing their experiences with others whose actions and decisions today can help create the food future we all want.
Images: © Darren Higgins