Duplication on food prices may lead to civil unrest

A report from GFN and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows that the world can face a political crisis over food shortage due to doubled prices.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Pakistani women struggle as they try to order food outside of a subsidized food store on the outskirts of Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Updated May 21, 2016

A report, published by the Global Footprint Network (GFN) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) this week indicated that the growing population and its demand for food can lead to a political crisis in the future as prices are expected to double due to the shortage of water and land resources.

Martin Halle, policy analyst at the GFN described the problem and stated that the world could face the issue sooner than expected and "a few things are very clear: the demand for food is going up tremendously because of population growth.”

Halle added that "[Food production] is becoming more unstable because climate change is affecting production, in the context of growing land and water scarcity. There's very little leeway between supply and demand."

According to the UN, soils, water supplies, forest and biodiversity are under threat of climate change. Additionally it rises the risk of droughts and floods, which will trigger predicaments such as global disasters.

Backing the UN approach on the issue, Halle said extreme weather alterations, attached to climate change, will deeply affect food production and food prices, making it much more unstable.  

Protesters share a loaf of bread during a demonstration in front of an ancient mosque to protest high prices and government carelessness, in Cairo, Egypt.

"The real game-changer comes when you factor in the environmental constraints, climate change, land scarcity and water scarcity, and all of these are linked," he said.

The report provided data from 110 countries across the world and found that the possible increase on food prices will create a 10 percent increase in the household spending of 37 countries.  

According to the report, the countries that will be affected by the increase of food prices are these five African countries; Benin, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Ghana the worst. 

Children rummage through garbage in search of food in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Even countries with emerging economics, such as China and India, may lose $161 billion and $49 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) due to the possible duplication, the report said.

Ivo Mulder, economics advisor at UNEP said higher income countries, like the United States, could benefit from food price increases, but it does not mean that they would be totally free from the risk.

"It's important to be honest about the types of risks that countries face," he said.

- Women pick out dates in front of their hut in the Nabwal village of Moroto, Uganda.

"Because even if developed countries are less exposed than developing countries, it doesn't mean there is no risk at all."

According to the report, the world has already experienced social and political unrest in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia due to a food crisis in 2007 and 2008.

The World Food Programme states that nearly 800 million people in the world cannot reach enough food that is necessary to sustain a healthy active life.

Approximately 12.9 percent of the population in developing countries are trying to stay alive, as they are undernourished, as poor nutrition claims 3.1 million children’s lives each year across the world.

TRTWorld and agencies