Population, Climate Change and Food Security
18 May 2020 to 25 May 2020
Background Papers

webinar to introduce the topic to PERN cyberseminar participants took place on 18 May 2020. 

Invited Experts

Molly Brown, University of Maryland, USA

Richard Choularton, Tetra Tech, USA

Kathryn Grace, Department of Geography, Environment, and Society, University of Minnesota, USA

Thomas Hertel, Agricultural Economics, Purdue University, USA

Massimo Livi-Bacci, Department of Economics, University of Florence, Italy 

Aly Mbaye, University Cheikh Anta Diop and WASCAL, Senegal

Hugo Valin, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria


Population dynamics are at the center of the climate change-population-food security nexus.  On the one hand, not only does population growth contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, it also drives demand for food. Likewise, rising incomes come with changing diets toward animal-based products, which are typically more resource-intensive and display higher environmental impacts. Population size and composition thus influence both climate change and food security. On the other hand, the impacts of climate change on human wellbeing and livelihoods are already being felt. Climate change may affect food security directly by reducing crop yields and available farming land and through adverse impacts on livestock health.  Indirect effects of climate change on food security may be observed through reductions in agriculture income, conflict, or impacts on global “breadbaskets” that result in increasing (or volatile) international, national and local food prices. The level of vulnerability and ability to respond and adapt to climate change and subsequent food insecurity varies and reflects individual farmer and community factors as well as broader scale economic, governmental and policy responses. Population dynamics and characteristics thus matters both in terms of population impacts on climate change and food security and in terms of determining who is vulnerable. 

Despite the central role demography plays in climate change and food security research, the topics remain understudied among demographers.  The understanding of current and future population size, composition and spatial distribution as well as differentials in dietary patterns, vulnerability and adaptive capacity will help policy planning for future climate change.  This cyberseminar will focus on the applications of methodological tools and concepts in demography, geography, economics, systems analysis, and other related fields in analyzing the population-climate change-food security nexus. We will explore empirical work and future scenarios that consider the impact of population on climate and food systems and the impact of climate and weather factors and food security on population subgroups and communities. The cyberseminar provides a platform for dynamic engagement between scientists from different disciplinary communities to advance the conversation centered on the nexus of population-climate change-food security.

Cyberseminar co-sponsors:

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is an independent, international research institute with National Member Organizations in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Through its research programs and initiatives, the institute conducts policy-oriented research into issues that are too large or complex to be solved by a single country or academic discipline.

CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), which brings together some of the world’s best researchers in agricultural science, development research, climate science and Earth system science, to identify and address the most important interactions, synergies and tradeoffs between climate change, agriculture and food security.


Raya Muttarak (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)), Kathryn Grace (University of Minnesota), Bryan Jones (CUNY Baruch), Susana Adamo (CIESIN, Columbia University), Alex de Sherbinin (CIESIN, Columbia University), Andres Ignacio (Environmental Science for Social Change), Leiwen Jiang (Population Council and Asian Population Research Center), and César Augusto Marques (Escola Nacional de Ciências Estatísticas - ENCE)