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COP28 Panel: Climate Change and Food Insecurity Put Global Stability at Risk

Farm Journal Foundation panel at COP28

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (DEC. 9, 2023) Climate change and resulting food and nutrition insecurity around the world create numerous challenges for global stability, but investments in agricultural research, development, and technology can help mitigate geopolitical risks, according to a group of experts speaking at a COP28 side event in Dubai.

The increasing frequency of extreme weather events worldwide threatens food production, especially in lower-income countries where large proportions of the population rely on agriculture, and people often have limited capacity to adapt to greater risks. Global hunger and malnutrition have risen significantly in the past few years due to factors including climate change, conflict, and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the United Nations. Food insecurity is linked to numerous geopolitical risks, including mass migration, radicalization, terrorist threats, and lost economic opportunity, according to a recent report commissioned by Farm Journal Foundation. 

“A critical imperative to resolving the climate crisis is enhancing global food security, which is in the U.S. national interest. Food insecurity is fueling instability due to conflict and migration,” said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who provided the keynote address at the Dec. 9 event. “The U.S. has an abundance of technical resources and advanced best practices that we must continue to share with growers around the world to strengthen food systems and enhance resilience. We have so much to offer. American generosity has been a hallmark of us leadership and the strength and effectiveness of soft power.” 

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin speaking at Farm Journal Foundation's event at COP28

Speakers at the event, organized by Farm Journal Foundation, included Chairman Cardin; Ann Vaughan, Senior Advisor for Climate Change at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); Alejandro Martinez, Director of Water Smart Agriculture for Latin America and the Caribbean Region at Catholic Relief Services; Jonah Smith, Vice President of Environmental Social Governance Strategy and Programs at IBM; and Doreen Ndishabandi, Chief People and Partnerships Officer at One Acre Fund, Rwanda.

"We’re seeing the urgent need to adapt food systems highlighted at the highest levels of climate policy and action," said Ann Vaughan, Senior Advisor for Climate Change at the U.S. Agency for International Development. "USAID is working hard to help farmers, fishers, and pastoralists have the tools – including innovations and access to financing – they need to adapt to an increasingly unpredictable climate."

Climate change disproportionately hurts smallholder farmers in lower-income countries who rely heavily on rainfed agriculture, making them vulnerable to volatile weather conditions including heat and drought. Smallholders also generally lack safety net programs, infrastructure, and tools and technologies to enable them to adapt to climate change. Participants in the event discussed how increasing investments in agricultural development and innovation would help promote global stability by enabling smallholders to increase their crop yields, produce more nutritious foods, and better feed themselves and their communities. 

"In the face of a rapidly changing climate, the threat to land degradation has escalated, posing a dire challenge to small-scale farmers worldwide. Their struggle to meet basic needs under these conditions is not just a local issue; it's a global emergency that affects us all,” said Alejandro Martinez, Director of Water Smart Agriculture for Latin America and the Caribbean Region at Catholic Relief Services. “At Catholic Relief Services, we are working across 15 countries, co-developing solutions with farmers that allow them to be more prosperous and resilient to climate risks by increasing their harvests, selling more, and strengthening their institutions. We urgently call for increased investments in these types of initiatives so that the world’s small-scale farmers can thrive, even in the face of such challenges.”

Hunger, malnutrition, and extreme poverty are linked to five kinds of threats to global stability, according to Farm Journal Foundation’s policy paper, authored by researchers at Texas A&M University. These are socio/political threats, economic threats, nutrition and health threats, environmental threats, and cultural threats. The report recommends increasing investments in agricultural research and long-term global development, including by supporting organizations such as CGIAR and programs like Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s flagship hunger initiative. 

“Farmers and our global food system are under intense pressure due to climate change, and this creates numerous threats to safety and security around the world,” said Tricia Beal, Chief Executive Officer of Farm Journal Foundation. “Smallholder farmers need to be able to feed and support their families and communities, even in difficult times. To achieve this, we need to increase support for agricultural research and development and ensure that farmers around the world can produce ample supplies of affordable and nutritious food for everyone.”

Crop yields in many lower-income countries, especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa, trail behind global averages because farmers often lack access to basic tools and technologies, such as improved seeds tailored to their local conditions. Historically, there has been a lack of public funding for agricultural research, research capacity-building, and dissemination of research for climate adaptation solutions for food systems in lower-income countries.

“Climate change imperils the lives of the over 2 billion people who rely on smallholder farms for their food and income,” said Doreen Ndishabandi, Chief People and Partnerships Officer at One Acre Fund, Rwanda. “It is estimated that smallholder farmers will see up to a 12% reduction in their yields by 2050, making their already precarious livelihoods even harder. The good news is that we already have many of the tools that smallholders need to grow their own way to food security. By delivering a set of simple yet consistent productivity solutions, such as financing, agronomic training, or access to markets, we can close the gaps that smallholders face. We see a moral imperative to act and believe that supporting food systems is the most logical, cost-effective, and sustainable solution to maintaining the social, political, and economic stability of the communities and the countries that are the most affected.”

Both public and private-sector support is needed to enable farmers and food systems to adapt to climate change and ensure global stability. Ensuring that farmers have access to improved tools and technologies will be key.

“One of the best ways to address these types of systemic challenges is to empower communities,” said Jonah Smith, Vice President of Environmental Social Governance Strategy and Programs at IBM. “For us, it is about working with the right local partners, and providing the right technology, accessibility and expertise to scale solutions that can empower people to tackle environmental and societal issues. That’s part of what we are doing at IBM.  We’re working across sectors, with non-profits and farmer communities for example, to leverage technologies such as our environmental intelligence suite, geospatial analytics and AI, all to enable communities, scale solutions and multiply the positive impacts.”


Media Contact

Whitney McFerron, Farm Journal Foundation


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About Farm Journal Foundation

Farm Journal Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to achieving global food security by sustaining modern agriculture’s leadership role and ability to meet the vital needs of a growing population. The organization works to advance this mission through key issue areas, including global food and nutrition security, agricultural research and innovation, rural development, and conservation and sustainability. To learn more, visit


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