Critical Research Needs for Successful Food Systems Adaptation to Climate Change
AbstractThere is a growing sense of the fragility of agricultural production in the Global North and South and of increasing risks to food security, as scientific observations confirm significant changes in the Gulf Stream, polar ice, atmospheric CO2, methane release, and other measures of climate change. This sense is heightened as each of us experiences extreme weather, such as the increasing frequency of droughts, floods, unseasonal temperatures, and erratic seasonality. The central research challenge before us is how global, national, regional, and local food systems may adapt to accelerating climate change stresses and uncertainties to ensure the availability, access, consumption, and stability of healthy food for and by all people. Missing aspects of research fall into two broad categories: the impacts of rapid climate change on the environmental systems supporting food production, and climate change's impact on the predominantly human systems that influence food security. Of particular concern is how different policy and governance mechanisms can support or hinder the collective decision-making needed to promote a swift adaptive response to increase and sustain food security. Human systems research is needed to investigate food system activities beyond production (processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management). It also must consider political, cultural, and regulatory factors that influence behavior and facilitate positive behavioral changes. To accurately envision future scenarios, research is needed to characterize risk comprehensively throughout the food system, assess barriers to and opportunities for changing food systems, and evaluate novel and traditional approaches that may lead to greater food security.
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