Climate Change, Chokepoints and Vulnerabilities in Global Food Trade

One more reason why climate change is the most pressing issues of our time.

A new report from Chatham House called “Chokepoints and vulnerabilities in global food trade” identifies 14 chokepoints around the world that are critical to global food  security. It includes maritime, coastal and inland chokepoints like  the Panama Canal, the Turkish Straits, the US rail network and the Black Sea ports and rail network.

The combination of extreme weather and weak and aging infrastructure together with  rising trade volumes, underinvestment and  weak governance, make chokepoint disruptions – both small-scale and large-scale – increasingly likely. A serious interruption at one or more of these chokepoints could lead to supply shortfalls and price spikes, with systemic consequences that could reach beyond food markets, threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people.

Climate change, especially, will have a multiplying effect on security and political hazards affecting the infrastructural backbone of international trade. Just think a hurricane landfall in the Gulf of Mexico, or a flood induced by sea-level rise in a lower latitude region.

Systemic problems require systemic solutions. The report proposes five areas for action and requires governments to anticipate the future and act at both national and international levels. Work must begin now for the necessary measures to be in place before climate change becomes a major source of disruption and instability.

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