Food security, risk management and climate change

Authors: David Michael and Rachel Crossley
Year: 2012

This studyidentifies that previously used risk management practices in food organisations will require substantial improvement to cope with and exploit the uncertainties that lie ahead. Three risks were identified as major constraints to adaptive capacity of food organisations operating in Australia: (1) risk management practices, (2) an uncertain regulatory environment itself a result of gaps in risk management, and (3) climate change uncertainty and projections about climate change impacts, also related to risk management. It is clear that best practice risk management has an important role to play in adaptation to climate change and other sources of uncertainty. There is, however, considerable potential to improve risk management practices across all public and private organisations. In this study, data was collected from more than 36 case study organisations (both foreign and local) operating in the Australian food-supply chain. Climate change impacts were identified as a source of risk by 62.5% of all respondents. However, only 56% of firms have formal risk management systems in place, and this is mostly concentrated at large firms in processing, distribution, storage and retail enterprises. The remaining firms have adopted a more informal approach to risk management, albeit one one that is often well suited to their individual circumstances. Over 70% of firms with formal risk management systems are developing their environmental systems and regulatory compliance to enhance their capacity to cope with climate change. Most respondents (formal and non-formal systems) indicated they were quite confident or extremely confident in their capacity to deal with climate change, though producers with extensive (more climate exposed) production systems tended to be less confident compared with other industry categories.

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