Food Chain Reaction Findings and Recommendations

Food Chain Reaction: A Global Food Security Game is an international simulation based in the near future during a global food crisis. In November 2015, 65 thought leaders and policy makers from several countries came together in Washington, D.C. to participate in the exercise. Teams of participants represented governments, institutions, and businesses and responded to a global food crisis caused by population growth, rapid urbanization, extreme weather, and political crises.

The game put the issue of food security at the forefront of a global conversation and teams were able to see firsthand via the simulation what the future of food security could look like in an increasingly volatile world. Trade, climate, and security emerged as big issues in global food security and teams found that the actions of a few could affect the many. As pressures increased, teams found they needed to work together to effectively deal with food security challenges. Their key findings and recommendations are below.

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KEY FINDINGS

Instability and volatility could increase.

Food insecurity, climate, and political instability are linked, causing volatility to become the “new normal.”

Photo Credit: © AP Photo / Amr Nabil

Climate change affects food security.

The impacts of climate change on food security elevate the importance of climate-smart agricultural. Players looked to increase productivity through sustainable and innovative practices.

Global collaboration is essential.

Teams came to the conclusion that no one nation, organization or business can successfully address global food security, yet the isolated actions of few can negatively affect many.

Photo Credit: © Darren Higgins

Agricultural research and development is critical.

Long-term investments in agricultural research and development will create a more food-secure future. This must include investing in research and development across the globe.

Photo Credit: © Rob Webster / WWF

Information sharing will enhance food security.

Building new information-sharing systems can enhance food security by enabling leaders to address food security challenges in real-time and allowing them to respond to emerging events more quickly.

Photo Credit: © Darren Higgins

Long-term solutions require better global governance.

This includes adapting long-term views and multilateral actions. Innovation is needed to better enable people to respond in a crisis and communities to build resilience.

Photo Credit: © WWF-US / Steve Morello

RECOMMENDATIONS

© Michel Gunther / WWF

Address the Knowledge Gap

Public and private sector leaders should develop a real-time global food security information-sharing system. This system should include information on resource scarcity, supply and demand, land and water issues, and nutrition. It should allow decision-makers to detect and address challenges to the food system before they occur and help them make informed decisions on how to prevent food shortages.

Address the Productivity Gap

We need to invest in increasing agricultural productivity in low-income countries in a sustainable manner while minimizing impacts on the environment. This includes investing in degraded lands to increase productivity, adopting sustainable agricultural practices, reducing global food waste, and working with farmers to better manage their lands.

Address the Collaboration Gap

We need to develop systems that will allow decision-makers to act together and act quickly in times of crisis. Food security should become a bigger picture topic in foreign policy, and long-term measures need to be put into place to curb food shortages in the wake of climate change. For example, nations could choose to create cross-border carbon taxes. If action is not taken, food security will cause instability, conflict, and human migration.

“ACHIEVING GLOBAL FOOD AND NUTRITION SECURITY IS NOT A GAME WE CAN AFFORD TO LOSE.”- Tom Daschle, Distinguished Senior Fellow Center for American Progress
“THE WORLD CAN GET IT RIGHT. WHEN WE ARE FACED WITH BIG CHALLENGES, WE COME UP WITH BIGGER SOLUTIONS.”- Adebisi Araba, Harvard University | Team: Africa
“THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE HOW INDUSTRY CAN CONTRIBUTE TO SUSTAINABLE FOOD SECURITY WAS INVALUABLE.”- Joe Stone, Cargill | Team: Businesses and Industry
“I REALLY WANT THE GLOBAL FOOD SYSTEM TO WORK WELL AND THIS EXERCISE IS GIVING US A CHANCE TO THINK ABOUT HOW IT MIGHT OPERATE UNDER STRESS.”- Daniel Pearson, International Trade Commission| Team: United States
“WE CAN MAKE A LOT OF DIFFERENCE, AND WE MAY NOT ALWAYS RECOGNIZE THE CONTRIBUTIONS THAT WE CAN MAKE.”- Partha Mukhopadhyay, Centre for Policy Research
“THERE IS A HOPE THAT A (FICTIONAL) CRISIS WILL CREATE THE ABILITY FOR US TO DO THINGS BETTER AND RECONFIGURE THE WORLD IN A BETTER WAY.”- Tim Benton, University of Leeds | Team: European Union