Informed by the findings of Food Chain Reaction, a new issue brief from the Center for American Progress, dives into the geopolitics of global food security and the potential role United States can play in addressing it.
Food Security and Climate Change: New Frontiers in International Security
By Senator Tom Daschle and Michael Werz
In 2010, President Barack Obama’s National Security Strategy, or NSS—the periodic planning document that assesses the risks facing the country and outlines the United States’ response—for the first time recognized climate change as a security threat. The document noted that, “The danger from climate change is real, urgent and severe,” arguing that “[t]he change wrought by a warming planet will lead to new conflicts over refugees and resources.” The framing of the threat was exceptionally strong for the carefully worded NSS document; previous strategy documents in 2006 and 2002 mentioned climate change only briefly in the context of spending on new technology and natural disasters.
The 2010 acknowledgment of new, nontraditional threats linked to climate change marked a turning point in the security community’s thinking about these issues. Over the past six years, analysts have accelerated their study of how these changes may affect international institutional architecture and shape geopolitical power. However, the international community still finds itself in largely uncharted waters, which requires new analytical approaches, data and mapping tools, and academic studies. But already, this nascent field points to the need to fundamentally rethink how our foreign and security policies intersect with access to water, agricultural production, food markets, transportation networks, and development projects.
This shift in emphasis reflects a new, more fluid international security architecture— one freed from the constraints and structure of the Cold War. Today, the stability offered by a bipolar stalemate between East and West is gone, and we live in a world with few global mechanisms capable of providing order. The more delicate and multidimensional regional arrangements of today have lower thresholds for serious disruption. As a result, the crisis scenarios facing the international community have become more fractured and complex; it is no longer enough to patch together a response aimed at preserving the balance of power.
Image: by AP Photo/Amr Nabil