How are rapid recent food price changes linked to climate and environmental change? How do people who are vulnerable to these changes view these links? This note explores the views of people living on low and precarious incomes on these connections, based on research designed to explore experiences of food price volatility in 2012, through qualitative research in 23 research sites in 10 countries.
The research was not specifically designed to study perceptions of climate and environmental change; these views are collected here because they offer interesting, relatively unmediated insights into how people perceive the causal connections between their food security and environment across varied social and ecological settings. It should be emphasised that high and volatile food prices was an important topic of discussion in all the communities, as were the causes and effects of this situation. This note suggests that the public discourse about food price changes in these low-income communities treats them as causally connected to climate change.
This was particularly noticeable in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya and Pakistan, where cyclones, droughts and floods had all been recent shocks to local farming and other livelihoods in several of the community research sites. Food price rises and volatility were also seen to be caused by longer-term processes of environmental degradation, particularly declining water and land availability and pollution, most noticeable in Viet Nam and Indonesia. Short-term responses and longer-term livelihood adaptations also sometimes influenced food price changes. Overall, it seemed that for many people, the links between climate and environmental change and food insecurity were robust and clear.