Food shortage, drought, migration and human security are issues in a society that can later unfold to big issues between states, Slaughter said at the event. But unlike popular topics like Iran or Afghanistan, food security lacks two important qualities to be taken seriously in Washington, D.C., she added: "It's not immediate, and it's not sexy."
Security linkages often are often overlooked
Creating long-term, sustainable and stable countries in the world is much more beneficial for U.S. and global security than anything else, Werz said.
A new study by British think tank E3G warns that the spread in democracy that followed the Arab Spring could be reversed due to failure to address the threat of food and energy price shocks. According to the report, climate models consistently estimate that warming will occur faster in the Middle East-North Africa region, accentuating the growing scarcity of water. Yet existing government investment is more focused on providing incentives for continued democratic reforms than addressing other vital areas for stability.
"There's definitely been a shift," said Taylor Dimsdale, senior research associate with E3G, about the understanding of linkages between social strife, food prices and climate change. "We're sort of recognizing that there's a lack of a full appreciation and full recognition for that need."
Moreover, as climate change drives extreme weather events in producer countries, food price increases could become another ticking bomb in the region. "We see it as an ongoing risk," Dimsdale said.
Because of globalization and interdependence, the relationship between climate change, migration and security should become the "new normal" in international policy conversations, the panel said. "In climate sciences, the axiom I live by is 'We have to manage what's unavoidable and avoid what's unmanageable,'" Friedman noted.
In that sense, according to Friedman, it all comes down to building resilience. One way to do this would be to stimulate market-based solutions through regulations and prices to drive clean energy, clean water and clean power in America or anywhere else in the world, he said.
"We need to come up with long-term, sustainable solutions that current foreign policy doesn't allow us to even think about," Slaughter said.
But first, she said, the United States needs to rethink the way it engages with the world. "The normal way the State Department is organized is by region, and then by issue area," Slaughter said. But with this format, it's hard to figure out how things are interconnected and even harder to address things bottom-up, she added.
Reporter Tiffany Stecker contributed. Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500