Climate threat to food supply chains is creating a 'domino effect'

New research from the University of Sydney published in Mother Nature Meals today has modeled the large-scale impacts of climate change and extreme weather events on systems Australia’s food and supply chains, identifying potential cascading impacts including loss of jobs and income as well as loss of nutrient availability and diet quality.

Led by Dr. Arunima Malik from the Integrated Sustainability Analysis Group of the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Business enterprise, the doc analyzed the impacts of change climate in different sectors and regions of Australia. Researchers found that climate change and extreme weather events impact communities, with rural areas hardest hit.

The study also found that climatic events, such as cyclones, floods, bushfires and heat waves, could affect surrounding areas by limiting food availability and employment. The effects of these events could be felt in remote areas due to the complex interconnectedness of modern supply chains.

The authors develop an integrated modeling framework to trace how reductions in food supply are impacting non-food sectors, such as transport and services.

“Climate change can have a direct affect on our economy , our livelihoods and our health. Disruptions caused by extreme weather events can ripple across regions and sectors, leading to job and income losses and impacts on food availability,” said Dr Malik, lead author of the IPCC study. . Sixth Assessment Report.

“Our study sought to model the indirect impacts of these events on the supply chain to enhance our understanding of supply chain networks interconnected and promote climate change preparedness,” she said.

Previous research by the Integrated Sustainability Analysis Group has shown that a localized disaster (such as a cyclone in Queensland) can affect all other Australian states, causing losses in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors.

“What is played out on a global scale also seems to be played out at a community level. Everyone is affected by climate change, even if they are not in areas directly affected by extreme weather conditions, and vulnerable people are the most affected,” said the study’s co-author. and Faculty of Science Sustainability Research Professor Manfred Lenzen.

Modeling also revealed that such impacts could lead to localized increases in food prices and a food quality, with poor households faring worse than their wealthy counterparts, even in the same area.

Co-author Professor David Raubenheimer of the Charles Perkins Heart said: “Disruptions to the food supply can have a negative impact on the quality of the diet, reducing the variety that contributes to a balanced diet, diverting diets towards unhealthy processed foods that t a longer shelf life. has a disproportionate impact on vulnerable groups, who cannot afford rising prices for scarce fresh food.”

Co-author, Dr Sinead Boylan, public health nutrition researcher at the Sydney Natural Environment Institute: “This research highlights that climate change may not only affect the food supply in New South Wales, but also access to healthy and equitable diets, particularly among the most vulnerable populations. These findings could help inform mitigation strategies to help these communities adapt. “

The impacts on food production would also have an impact on lost jobs and income not only in food supply chains, but also in transport sectors and products and services.

The research was based on a methodology that incorporated a nutritional framework with regional supply chain impacts and patterns of job and income loss, providing a holistic view of the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events.

“Frameworks like this could well be used to inform the decision-making processes of governments and other organizing bodies. It is vitally important that communities and organizations are aware of these impacts to encourage better mitigation planning and resilience to climate change,” said Dr Malik..

“The cascading effects, generated by continued climate variability and more frequent extreme weather events, not only disrupt supply chains, but can also trigger zoonotic diseases, outbreaks of food origin and broad socio-demographic tensions, including inter-regional migration and social unrest. it is essential that we understand these impacts so that we can build a more resilient society,” she said.

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