Climate change impact on food security in East Asia

Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM) researchers studied climate change impacts on food security in four East Asian countries - China, Japan, South Korea, and Mongolia.

Rice fields © Degist | iStock

Rice fields

Achieving food security in the face of climate change is a major challenge for humanity in the 21st century. However, comprehensive analyses of climate change impacts, including global market feedbacks, are still lacking.

Focusing on four Eastern Asian countries - China, Japan, South Korea and Mongolia - and using a global integrated modeling framework, ESM researchers showed that:

  • once imports are taken into consideration, the overall climate change impact on the amount of food available could be of opposite sign to direct domestic impacts; and
  • adjusting production and trade in response to price signals could reduce the spread of climate change impacts on food availability.

Researchers then investigated how pressure on the food system in Eastern Asia could be mitigated by a consumer support policy. It was found that the costs of adaptation policies to 2050 varied greatly across climate projections. The costs of consumer support policies would also be lower if only implemented in one region. However, market price leakage could exacerbate pressure on food systems in other regions.

Scientists conclude that climate adaptation should no longer be viewed only as a local geographically isolated problem.  

Figure 1. Adaptation policy, (a) China, (b) Japan, (c) Mongolia, (d) South Korea. Source: Mosnier et al. (2014), Food Security [1].


[1] Mosnier A, Obersteiner M, Havlík P, Schmid E, Khabarov N, Westphal M, Valin H, Frank S, Albrecht F (2014). Global Food Markets, Trade and the Cost of Climate Change Adaptation. Food Security: 1–16. doi:10.1007/s12571-013-0319-z.


Asian Development Bank;
Michael Westphal, ADB Associates, USA.

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Last edited: 22 May 2014


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