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Climate Change and Food Security: How are They Related?

November 4, 2014

The IPCC Third Assessment published in 2001 reported that even a small increase in temperature in the tropics such as Africa and low latitude regions would lead to catastrophic crop losses. Although mid- to high-latitude crops may benefit from a small amount of warming (approximately 2°C), plant health will decline with additional warming. It was further noted in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report published in 2007 that stresses such as limited availability of water, loss of biodiversity, forest fires and air pollution are increasing sensitivity to climate change and reducing resilience in the agricultural sector. One cannot deny that climate change will threaten global food security. The pervasiveness of the impacts of climate change on food security and production also means that it will be necessary to implement adaptation methods to global food systems.

Singapore imports more than 90 per cent of its food. An increase in the price of key food imports or export bans by major food suppliers could have dire consequences for Singapore, making it all the more important for Singapore to improve the resilience of its food supply. In an interview with The Straits Times in August 2014, National Development and Defence Minister of State Mohamad Maliki Osman noted that Singapore diversifies its sources across 160 countries so as to spread its risks[1]. The Government also provides support to local farms to push for more local food production. Dr Malik also pointed out that research and development is crucial in boosting productivity.

On 21-22 August 2014, Singapore held the International Conference on Asian Food Security (ICAFS) 2014 to discuss food security issues as well as to exchange policy recommendations to address the future of food in the region. Articles for each session are available here: http://www.rsis.edu.sg/event/151-icafs-2014-international-con/#.VFhpUsmWxQV

Read the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report here: http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/contents.html

Read about adaptation actions in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg2/WGIIAR5-Chap7_FINAL.pdf (7.5)

[1] http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/environment/story/rd-important-help-singapore-improve-its-food-security-dr-maliki-201

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