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Climate Change and Food insecurity Threatens Stability in Developing Countries

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Maplecroft released their seventh annual “Climate Change and Environmental Risk Atlas” (CCERA), and the initial findings are bleak for some developing nations. In their report they reviewed climate change and how it is amplifying risk in 32 countries, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, and the Philippines. Several reports, including ones recently released by the Pentagon, identify climate change as a “threat multiplier.” Maplecroft they observed that climate change can result in food insecurity, directly increasing the risk of conflict and civil unrest.

One of the unifying characteristics of these at risk countries is that their economies are heavily dependent on agriculture, with 65% of their combined workforce employed in this sector and 28% of their overall economic output reliant on revenue generated from agriculture. Thus any impact on the food sector from climate can have grave impacts for the security of the citizens in those countries. The UN IPCC estimates that production of staples such as rice, wheat, and maize could decline as much as 50% in the next 35 years.

These countries are most at risk because they already exhibit high levels of poverty, displacement, political violence, and conflict. When drought and food insecurity added, these factors can combine to give way to regional instability and hurt the national economy. One example of this scenario can be seen in Nigeria. Many experts point to these combining factors from the emergence of Boko Haram and other violent insurgencies in the region.

Climate change is already impacting weather patterns, resulting in lower food production, poverty, migration and social stability. These factors significantly increase the risk that conflicts will arise in fragile and emerging states.

American Security Project recently released their “Global Security Defense Index” that aims to answer this important question of climate security and how militaries around the world perceive this issue. The GSDI stresses that further adaptation policies are needed to mitigate risks the world faces from climate change. Some examples include drought resistant crops, resilient infrastructure, and poverty reduction. A key adaptation method for less stable countries would be more economic diversification to insulate the impact from damage in the agriculture market. In the meantime, miliatries around the world must prepare