Climate change is increasing the food gap between Northern and Southern Mediterranean countries, the study found

Policy interventions: need and feasibility. Credit: Land Use Policy (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2022.106263


The Mediterranean region is widely recognized as one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change, water scarcity, biodiversity loss and land degradation, as well as the impact of shifts in the nutrition of its populations.

Such challenges of the agri-food system are complex and interrelated: to overcome the limitations of addressing each of them in isolation, a study led by CMCC Foundation Scientist Marta Antonelli – Euro-Mediterranean Climate Change Center takes a comprehensive look at some of the issues. The most pressing social, economic and environmental problems related to food in the Mediterranean region.

The study will contribute to a better understanding of the Mediterranean agri-food dynamics in order to assess the Mediterranean’s progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The empirical findings are based on the results of a Delphi survey, an iterative social science method for gathering opinions, between 2017 and 2018, drawing on the experiences of nearly 60 practitioners, experts and academics from 19 Mediterranean countries.

By adopting an integrated, comprehensive overview of agri-food systems, the study primarily identified the main challenges, trends and drivers of agri-food systems in the Mediterranean in the short (2020) and medium (2030) periods. .

The results show a gap in difficulty between countries in the southern (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey) and northern Mediterranean (France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain). expected to grow in water management, agricultural systems and agri-food value chains.

Experts agree that climate change will play a key role in the future of both sides of the Mediterranean, but will have differential effects in the two sub-regions. The outlook for the South is bleaker than for the North, and although the North is not reversing negative trends and is believed to be able to strengthen the positive, many of the challenges facing the South make the overall balance negative or mixed. at best.

In particular, water-related challenges remain in the Southern Mediterranean, with annual increases in agricultural freshwater expected in the short to medium term.

Nutritional challenges are also under increasing pressure, especially in Southern Mediterranean countries. Dietary trends indicate a shift away from the Mediterranean diet, which benefits human and planetary health, due to multifactorial influences, including lifestyle changes, food globalization, and sociocultural factors. According to experts, the prevalence of overweight will increase.

In addition, experts say that climate change will have a significant impact on both the north and south of the vulnerability zone, especially in the long term: climate change will intensify environmental pressures caused by changes in land use (for example, urbanization, agricultural intensification), pollution. and loss of biodiversity, which can affect the livelihoods of people throughout the basin, both from an environmental security perspective, which can trigger famine, migration and conflict, but also from a socio-economic perspective.

The study also assesses the feasibility and appropriateness of alternative policy responses to the challenges facing the region and provides informed, evidence-based recommendations to help various stakeholders take action.

From this point of view, the main priorities determined by the survey include improving the health of the population through planned sanitary education at school; Stop routine use of antibiotics in healthy animals to promote growth and prevent infectious diseases as directed by the World Health Organization; creating conditions for employment of rural youth; attract farmers to use new technology in agriculture to increase efficiency; address the technological and managerial innovation gap by increasing collaboration with the research community.

The work was published in the journal Land Use Policy.

More information:
Marta Antonelli et al., The Future of Mediterranean Agri-Food Systems: Trends and Perspectives from the Delphi Survey, Land Use Policy (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2022.106263

Presented by the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change – CMCC Foundation

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