The Jameel Index for Food Trade and Vulnerability 

Supported by Community Jameel, this project will study the implications of climate change on food security and how they relate to trade.

Four picture collage of grain silos on a farm, a large cargo ship in a port, Asian women in boats with food at a floating market, and an arid farm with dried up crops.

Global changes spurred by social and economic transitions, energy and environmental policy, regional geopolitics, conflict, and of course climate change, can impact food demand and supply. Despite the crucial need for more secure food systems, significant knowledge gaps exist when it comes to understanding how different climate scenarios may affect both agricultural productivity and global food supply chains and security. To better understand and analyze food security, this three-year research project will develop a comprehensive index assessing countries’ food security vulnerability, called the Jameel Index for Food Trade and Vulnerability. The index will measure countries’ dependence on global food trade and imports and how regional-scale threats might affect the ability to trade food goods across diverse geographic regions.

A main outcome of the research will be a model to project global food demand, supply balance, and bilateral trade under different likely future scenarios, with a focus on climate change. The work will help guide policymakers over the next 25 years while the global population is expected to grow and the climate crisis is predicted to worsen.    

The work will be a foundational project for the Food and Climate Systems Transformation (FACT) Alliance which is led by the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS) at MIT. Phase one of the project will support a collaboration between four FACT Alliance members: MIT J-WAFS, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI, which is also part of the CGIAR network), and the Martin School at the University of Oxford. An external partner, United Arab Emirates University, will also assist with the project work.

The project is supported by Community Jameel.

“Current models are really good at showing global food trade flows, but we don’t have systems for looking at food trade between individual countries and how different food systems stressors such as climate change and conflict disrupt that trade. This timely index will be a valuable tool for policymakers to understand the vulnerabilities to their food security from different shocks in the countries they import their food from."

—Greg Sixt, PhD, Director, Food and Climate Systems Transformation (FACT) Alliance, and Research Manager for Climate and Food Systems at the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab

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