"Global Catastrophic Risks" collectively have ~1 in 10 probability of occurring per decade. With the possible exceptions of China, USA and South Korea, current resilience, financial systems and relief capacity are designed to mitigate only limited food price increases (such as in 2008 which was caused by impacts totalling <1% of global output) and not an abrupt 2-10% shock or worse, where without more preparedness it could be expected that governments, even with support from WFP and other major relief agencies, would be unable to source and distribute enough food to prevent food riots and government collapses. Without both internationals (industry, IMF, markets, Rapid Response Forum, UN insurers, disaster professionals, etc) and nationals (governments, broadcasters, private sector logistics, agriculture, etc.) having extraordinary stop-gap famine preparedness measures ready and stress tested, the run-up in global food prices would likely be much more severe than 2007-8 and last for months or years, leading to mass refugee flows, perhaps in unexpected directions. So food shortage and distribution problems or conflict could cause "actual global famine", with widespread economic collapses, potentially putting 100 million people at risk of starvation and within 2 year conceivably up to 2 billion deaths across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. As a duty of care, current learning in integrative risk management can and should be scaled up to address such risks through the UN Sendai process, building on the Hyogo framework. The IMF, World Bank, Chatham House and several governments (e.g. UK and USA) are looking at specific aspects of this, leaving many gaps, especially in relation to Africa, Asia and the Americas where (e.g.) Nigeria, Brazil and India have additional challenges such as distribution and total population.

We explore some possible responses, preparedness options, research gaps and usefulness of "alternate foods" such as quick diversion of modified biofuels to edible oils/carbs and innovative uses of residues, waste, leaves, woody matter, methane and bacteria. These options together with distribution readiness would dramatically reduce mortality in a global catastrophic risk event. Food secure continents attract more sustained investment. Some of the preparedness options and alternate foods have further present time benefits, making them more easily fundable. Being well-prepared globally can reduce the likelihood of panic export bans and other self-defeating options in the future, and build present time trust/cooperation between countries, continents and industries, preventing beggar-thy-neighbour scenarios.

We make suggestions for the Hyogo / Sendai framework and to the risk and disaster communities for (1) immediately doable preparedness actions with high value and low cost per life saved, and (2) initial assessments and research (3) integration and knowledge exchange opportunities (4) funding strategies and financial sustainability.


Keywords[edit | edit source]


solar storm, high-altitude electromagnetic pulse, computer virus, global catastrophic risk, existential risk, industry, food, Lloyds of London, multiple bread basket failure, global catastrophic famine, catastrophe preparedness, World Food Program (WFP)

See also[edit | edit source]

Feeding Everyone No Matter What- Cambridge
Feeding Everyone No Matter What

Additional Information[edit source]

Davos IDRC Conference[edit source]

Discussion[View | Edit]

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