UCL Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction


Communicating climate risk and the implications for food security

16 November 2010

Many indicators warn that climate-related risks are increasing.  However, most scientists and policy makers are unconvinced that communication of these risks, which include widespread drought and food shortages, to the most vulnerable is getting better.

With these pressing issues in mind, the world is eagerly anticipating developments at the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP16) in Cancun, Mexico.

To mark the run-up to this conference, the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, in collaboration with the UCL Institute for Global Health, the UCL Environment Institute, the Humanitarian Futures Programme at King’s College London and the Advisory Committee on Protection of the Sea, are convening a discussion meeting on 16 November 2010 to explore the issue of communicating climate risk and examining its implications for food security.

The event will consider how the science of climate change and weather-related natural hazards is communicated and how this information is used for building resilience, specifically in developing countries. In particular it will explore what food crises mean for countries in the developing world, and examine how knowledge and practices from different countries and cultures may be integrated to build greater food security.

Confirmed speakers and panel member are:

  • Julian Hunt (UCL)
  • Anthony Costello (UCL)
  • Emma Visman (King's College London)
  • Elsie Owusu (JustGhana)
  • Sulemana Abudulai (Gaia Foundation)

Lord Professor Julian Hunt FRS, UCL Earth Sciences, Vice President of GLOBE (Global Legislators for a Balanced Environment) and former Director General of the UK Met Office, said: “More collaboration is needed in implementing policies, and key are social programmes for the millions of people who are likely to be displaced by the effects of desertification and sea level rise, and probably melting of mountain snows.”

Lord Professor Hunt will also argue that more information is needed about future levels of greenhouse gases, global climate change risks, especially on a regional basis, and the future impact on countries. He also believes that information about practical actions by countries and regions for mitigation and adaptation also needs to be exchanged, as was agreed in principle at Copenhagen. 

Emma Visman, the Futures Group Manager at the Humanitarian Futures Programme (HFP) at King’s College, London, will outline how HFP has been supporting a two-way exchange between climate scientists and humanitarian and development policy makers since early 2009. The exchange clearly highlights the need to ensure that efforts to address future climate variability and change are appropriately informed by the best available climate science, which meets the information needs of those likely to be worst affected. Without such investment, there are clear risks of maladaptation and heightening vulnerability to future climate risks.

Elsie Owusu OBE, Director of JustGhana Ltd will consider Ghanaian knowledge data centres, while Professor Anthony Costello, Co-Director of the UCL Institute for Global Health, will discuss issues of food and health.  Sulemana Abudulai of the Gaia Foundation will share his experience of managing development programmes of various NGOs across Africa.

Notes for Editors

  1. Journalists who wish to register for the event or find out more should contact either Dr Stephen Edwards, email: s.edwards@ucl.ac.uk, tel: +44 (0)20 3108 6002, or Miss Lucy Stanbrough, email: l.stanbrough@ucl.ac.uk, tel: +44 (0)20 3108 6001.
  1. Alternatively, please contact please contact Clare Ryan in the UCL Media Relations Office on tel: +44 (0)20 7679 9726, mobile: +44 (0)7747 565 056, out of hours +44 (0)7917 271 364, e-mail: clare.ryan@ucl.ac.uk.
  2. More information about this event can be found here: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/rdr/irdr/events/16112010

About UCL (University College London)

Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. UCL is among the world's top universities, as reflected by performance in a range of international rankings and tables. Alumni include Marie Stopes, Jonathan Dimbleby, Lord Woolf, Alexander Graham Bell, and members of the band Coldplay. UCL currently has over 13,000 undergraduate and 9,000 postgraduate students. Its annual income is over £700 million. www.ucl.ac.uk

UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction

Reducing global risks and disasters presents a colossal challenge that requires coordinated and collaborative action. UCL is uniquely well placed to lead research in risk and disaster reduction, with at least 70 academics across 12 departments and 7 faculties involved in world-class research, teaching and practice in the field.

The Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, responding to the UCL Grand Challenges, will bring together this wealth of knowledge and expertise, and through research, teaching and knowledge exchange aims to overcome the barriers to understanding risk and reducing the impact of disasters. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/rdr/