A groundbreaking report by authors from SEI and Mistra Geopolitics reveals the climate risks to global trade in major agricultural commodities – and concludes that they constitute a serious global challenge. The authors of the report calls for urgent multilateral action.
Agriculture is one of the most exposed sectors to climate change. The report Climate change, trade and global food security – a global assessment of transboundary climate risks in agricultural commodity flows reveals for the first time in detail which countries are exposed to transboundary climate risks (TCRs) through agricultural trade and which countries are important sources of risk.
The report assesses six key commodities: staple commodities (maize, rice and wheat), highly embedded commodities (soy and sugar cane) and luxury commodities (coffee). Magnus Benzie, co-author of the report from SEI and Mistra Geopolitics said:
“As we anticipate increased impacts due to climate change, the global community needs to come together to assure market stability and allow food to be purchased at affordable prices, or risk social upheaval and new geopolitical challenges. ”
All countries at risk
The results suggest that all countries are exposed to transboundary climate risks, regardless of development, power or wealth. Countries in Europe and North America are both highly exposed to TCRs through foreign imports and can be major sources of risk for others who depend on their exports for food security.
While addressing climate risks has historically been understood as a challenge for developing countries and adaptation planning has often been conducted at a national, regional or local level, the report argues this framing of adaptation is out of date and insufficient for achieving the Paris Agreement’s Global Goal on Adaptation.
Climate change drives systemic risk
Overall the report concludes that traditional approaches to managing risk in supply chains, such as substituting high-risk links with more resilient ones, or hedging risk across a diverse spread of suppliers, are unlikely to prove effective over long term or more extreme scenarios. Climate change drives systemic risk and will occur everywhere at once. Countries need to work together via multilateral institutions and processes to achieve the mutually-beneficial goal of systemic resilience in global agricultural markets.
About the report
The report, Climate change, trade, and global food security: A global assessment of transboundary climate risks in agricultural commodity flows, is published by SEI and Mistra Geopolitics. Authors within Mistra Geopolitics include Kevin M. Adams, Magnus Benzie, SEI and Mistra Geopolitics Deputy Director Henrik Carlsén, SEI.
Kevin M. Adams is a Research Associate at the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). He is working primarily on issues of global climate politics, particularly climate finance. Kevin acts as both support for the Management Team, and is a researcher in Work Package 5, which uses foresight methods to explore the role of Sweden in a changing geopolitical landscape.
Henrik Carlsen is a senior research fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and Deputy Programme Director of Mistra Geopolitics. He is an expert on decision making under uncertainty, with an emphasis on climate change adaptation. His research interests are based on the intersection between science and policy on long-term challenges to society. Henrik is a researcher in Work Package 4; The inter-relationships between shifting geopolitical landscapes and the SDGs.
Magnus Benzie, Research Fellow at Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), is focusing on climate change adaptation. His research includes 15 years of professional experience in climate change research with a focus on climate impacts, vulnerability, risk and adapatation. Magnus is active in decarbonization, and previously within the work package ‘Impact pathways in a changing environmental and geopolitical context’.
For further information, please contact:
Maria Cole is a Senior Communications Officer at Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) based in Stockholm.
Telephone:+46 70 224 20 22
Ylva Rylander is a Communications Officer at SEI. As a core member of SEI’s communications team and previous Press Officer of SEI, Ylva writes and edits press releases, develops communication plans and creates news stories. With 15 years of experience in public relations, awareness raising and external communication, she also provides strategic advice to SEI and Mistra Geopolitics researchers to help them maximize the impact of their research.
Telephone:+4673 150 33 84