Climate change, food supply and trade

“We know that in an international comparison Sweden is more vulnerable to these kinds of climate impacts than to direct climate impacts occurring within our borders.” Åsa Persson, SEI

In an increasingly unpredictable world, ensuring the resilience of populations and critical infrastructure to compound and cascading supply chain disruptions, and to ‘black swan’ events, will become increasingly vital yet ever more challenging.

This is one of the major statements in the new (June 2017) report from Chatham House: Chokepoints and Vulnerabilities in Global Food Trade. The authors Rob Bailey and Laura Wellesley from the Energy, Environment and Resources Department, conclude that consequences for food supply is underestimated by policymakers around the world, and that a new level of collaboration is needed:

“Policymakers must take action immediately to mitigate the risk of severe disruption at certain ports, maritime straits, and inland transport routes, which could have devastating knock-on effects for global food security.”

Read more about their findings here >

So, what do we need to consider from a Swedish perspective? Åsa Persson, senior researcher at SEI and leader of the Mistra Geopolitics work package on impact pathways and supply chains, says that this report puts the spotlight on a new kind of risk that strategic planners in both public and private sectors need to become much more aware of.

“In our research we will develop a risk profile for Sweden, likely with a focus on the food sector, and examine which of these chokepoints and supply chains are particularly significant for us. To do this, we will use powerful datasets and modelling tools developed by SEI, such as the groundbreaking Trase database and models for input-output trade analysis, but also work together with Swedish stakeholders and tap the intelligence in the broader community.”

Åsa Persson continues with something that we might not be aware of: “From our earlier work on indicators for these cascading and transnational climate impacts, we know that in an international comparison Sweden is more vulnerable to these kinds of climate impacts than to direct climate impacts occurring within our borders. So we expect to generate results of high relevance and interest. Importantly, though, we will in line with the programme’s overall objectives not just focus on risks but also new opportunities for Swedish trade.”



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