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Disaster Strikes Again: Agriculture Resiliency in the Face of Climate Shocks

March 29, 2019

Swathi Ayyagari, MA '19, You Lyu, MA '19, Michael Matosich, MA '19 Aaron Ng, MA '19

Serena Sowers
, Vice President, Global Partnerships, Swiss Re
Ashley Hungerford, Economist, Office of Chief Economist, US Department of Agriculture
Tahseen Sayed, Country Director for Caribbean Countries, the World Bank
Kate Brown, Executive Director, Global Island Partnership (GLISPA)

Celeste Connors
, Associate Practitioner in Residence at Johns Hopkins SAIS

Students in the Energy, Resources and Environment Practicum collaborating with global reinsurance company Swiss Re presented their research findings on the economic consequences of climate-related disasters in agriculture-dependent communities. These shocks not only negatively impact farmers in the affected areas but also further disrupt agricultural revenue streams and strain public budgets. Expert panelists continued the discussion by exploring effective solutions to mitigate the risks of these devastating impacts.

While the research team gathered information on wildfires and hurricanes in California, North Carolina, Georgia, and the Caribbean, the main focus of the discussion was the human impact. Natural disasters wreak havoc across the communities they strike; yet, these tragic events can be easy to forget as soon as they fade from the news cycle. The United States is among the top three countries most frequently affected by climate-related shocks, according to the team’s report. When a natural disaster strikes, the loss of crop yields threatens the financial stability of farms and puts the American food supply at substantial risk. In analyzing governmental responses in recent years, the team also explored some of the proactive and cost-effective solutions to natural disasters that would lessen the financial burden on the public sector.

Each of the panelists further addressed how their respective institution and industry managed the risk of climate-related catastrophes and engaged the local communities in mitigating the aftermath of distasters.