Expert Panel Helps Build Environmental Factors Into the GFSI

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) recently convened a panel of experts on natural resources, climate change, water security, and sustainable agriculture to help expand the scope of the Global Food Security Index (GFSI). Sponsored by DuPont, the GFSI is a comprehensive assessment of food affordability, availability, and quality in 113 countries across the world. First released in 2012, the Index identifies factors that drive food security, determines country strengths and weaknesses, and highlights areas of action and food system gaps.

In today’s food security and agriculture sectors, there is a growing focus on resource conservation and climate change adaptation as well as acknowledgement that a comprehensive analysis of food security should include climate-related risks and sustainable agricultural practices. To help build these factors into the GFSI, the EIU and DuPont hosted a day-long workshop with senior-level specialists from academia, multilaterals and NGOs, government, and the private sector.

Panel members included: Joe Glauber, International Food Policy Research Institute; Elise Golan, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Susanna Hecht, University of California at Los Angeles; Karin Kemper, World Bank; Catie Lee, Land O’Lakes; Shaun Martin, World Wildlife Fund; Dawn Rittenhouse, DuPont; Allison Thomson, Field to Market; Sonja Vermeulen, CGIAR Climate Change; and Sara Walker, World Resources Institute.

This effort is an attempt to fill a climate exposure and natural resources gap in the Index.

“Much of what we’re looking at now regarding food security tells us what conditions are like today. But the impacts of temperature change, land deforestation, and the depletion of water resources are hugely important, but a little bit slower moving. So we want to have an idea of what impacts they will have in the future,” noted Leo Abruzzese, EIU global director of public policy, economics and politics.

There was consensus among the panel members that the EIU should develop a tool within the GFSI that allows users to see food security scores based on the existing model and then see how those scores shift when environmental factors, such as climate exposure, are considered.

The following are other takeaways from the panel discussion:

  • Exposure to climate change is more appropriate than vulnerability.
  • Each natural asset (e.g. water, land, oceans) and climate change effect (e.g. temperature change, flooding and drought) should be measured separately.
  • Both physical resilience and policy resilience should be added for each resource.
  • It is crucial to include as resources: land use (including forest change, soil, and grasslands), oceans, and groundwater.


Work will continue on building out the new environmental category over the next several months. The 2017 refresh of the enhanced GFSI and its findings is scheduled to be released in São Paulo, Brazil, in late September.

This entry was posted on Agriculture, Food Security, Sustainability, CGIAR, Dawn Rittenhouse, Economist Intelligence Unit, Field to Market, Global Food Security Index, International Food Policy Research Institute, Land O'Lakes, Leo Abruzzese, University of California at Los Angeles, USDA, World Bank, World Resources Institute, World Wildlife Fund,

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