New book: Crisis and Conflict in Agriculture

CABI has published a book on Crisis and Conflict in Agriculture that has been edited by Rami Zurayk, Rachel Bahn and myself. Book launches are held at the Graduate Institute in Geneva and American University of Beirut.

The book discusses the causes and effects of crisis and conflict within an agricultural and rural context. It explores issues such as competition over resources, and looks at how crisis and conflict impact upon developing country agriculture for both the physical and human agricultural landscape. It reviews crises stemming from politically-driven violence as well as natural disasters and climate change.

Exploring the relationship between agriculture and conflicts and crises before, during and after crisis periods, the book:

  • Evaluates controversial issues such as land-grabs and the growing of illegal crops;
  • Covers methodological approaches such as GIS-based studies, ethnographic studies and the blending of methods;
  • Includes numerous case studies focusing on developing countries within Asia, Latin America, Middle East, North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Wise Cities in the Mediterranean book out

The book “Wise Cities” in the Mediterranean? Challenges of Urban Sustainability has been published now:

Cities are home to over half the world’s population, consume a majority of its resources and cause a large share of its waste. Cities are both a challenge for global sustainability and crucial for its solution. Their settlement density and networks of creativity provide the space and the ideas for improved resource management. Above all they epitomise the needs and aspirations of their citizens. They are spaces of longing and belonging with promises of social equitability, individual freedom and political participation.

Cities on the southern and northern shores of the Mediterranean are among the oldest in the world and can draw on rich traditions of architecture, urban development and municipal administration. Yet, there are fundamental differences between these cities. Mega-cities like Istanbul and Cairo grapple with different challenges than medium-sized cities along the Côte d’Azur that have higher per capita incomes and better infrastructure. Cities in the north of the Mediterranean also have stronger traditions of municipal self-governance and autonomy.

For all their differences, Mediterranean cities share some of today’s most common urban challenges, such as environmental degradation, gentrification and growing inequality, climate change, provision of services, mass urbanisation, migration, and the fourth industrial revolution, to name just a few. This book seeks to contribute to a necessary debate on the social and environmental sustainability of urban growth in the Mediterranean and beyond.

Conference on Wise Cities in the Mediterranean

Cities are home to over half the world’s population, consume a majority of its resources and cause a large share of its waste. Cities are a challenge for global sustainability. They are also crucial for its solution. Their settlement density and networks of creativity provide the space and the ideas for improved resource management. Above all they epitomize the needs and aspirations of their citizens. They are spaces of longing and belonging with promises of social equitability, individual freedom and political participation.
 
Together with over a dozen think tanks from around the world CIDOB launched the Wise Cities research and action platform in 2016. It builds on existing concepts of city planning and management such as “sustainable city”, “green city”, “eco-city”, “ubiquitous city” and more recently “smart city”, but adds non-technocratic angles that are inspired by citizenship, such as socio-economic development, political participation and cultural diversity.
 
Cities on the southern and northern shores of the Mediterranean belong to the oldest in the world and can draw on a rich tradition of architecture, urban development and municipal administration. With all their differences, these cities share common pressing challenges such as environmental degradation, climate change, mass urbanization, migration, growing inequality and the fourth industrial revolution, just to name a few.
 
Against this backdrop the Kuwait Chair at Sciences Po holds a conference on 8-9 March 208 in Paris in collaboration with CIDOB on “Wise Cities” in the Mediterranean? The Challenge of Environmental and Social Sustainability. 
 
The policy-oriented conference will gather city planners, policy makers, academics and representatives of NGOs and international organizations. It seeks to discuss alternative pathways of urbanization, engage citizens and develop ideas for the localization process of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

New Article: Food Security in Iraq

The academic journal Food Security has just published the following article of mine. It can be accessed here (read only):

Food security in Iraq: results from quantitative and qualitative surveys

Abstract:

Iraq’s food security has been profoundly affected by its oil-based economy, over three decades of conflict and its politics that have been shaped by authoritarian rentierism. The article outlines the political economy of food security in Iraq and how it has been shaped historically. It identifies various conditioning factors such as oil, conflict, environment, agricultural development strategies and institutional setups, such as the Public Distribution System (PDS), the world’s largest public food program. It then disentangles these factors in an analysis of data from Gallup, Iraq Body Count and various international organizations to give an appreciation of the Iraqi food security situation since the end of the Saddam regime. Finally, it takes a look at views of Iraqi experts on current food security issues in Iraq, using the results of an online survey that was conducted from May–October 2015 among 152 Iraqi experts from academia, ministries and NGOs. Iraqis overwhelmingly identify political instability and bad governance as major challenges to food security; it is unlikely that mere technocratic policy prescriptions can improve food security in the absence of political stability and improved governance.

Keywords: Food security Agriculture/ Iraq/ Middle East/ Authoritarianism/ Isis

Conference: Crisis and Conflict in the Agrarian World

Conference: Crisis and Conflict in the Agrarian World: An Evolving Dialectic

March 2-3, 2017
Sciences Po, Paris

Organized in collaboration with the American University of Beirut (AUB)
and the Barcelona Center for International Affairs (CIDOB)

Chaired by Eckart Woertz, scientific advisor of the Kuwait Chair at Sciences Po

***

Agriculture and food security are globally affected by crises and rural communities are among the worst affected by various forms of conflicts. On the other hand there are agricultural and rural drivers of crisis and conflict (including competition over natural, water, and land resources). This is particularly pertinent in many regions of the developing world such as the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Crisis and conflict affect the human and natural agricultural landscapes and shape social and gender relations. Appropriate strategies to rehabilitate agriculture during and following crisis or conflict are crucial in making livelihoods more resilient and rebuilding societies after periods of crisis and conflict.

Against this backdrop, the Kuwait Chair at Sciences Po invites to an academic conference on the topic of “Crisis and Conflict in the Agrarian World: An Evolving Dialectic,” in cooperation with the American University of Beirut and CIDOB, the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs.

Article: Agriculture and Development in the Wake of the Arab Spring

Article of mine on Agriculture and Development in the Wake of the Arab Spring in special issue of International Development Policy on economic aspects of the Arab Spring.

Abstract:

This paper analyses the role of agriculture in the political economy of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). It outlines agriculture’s relative contribution to development and employment, shows linkages with food security policies, and discusses possible future scenarios. Agriculture’s role in the economies of MENA is limited nowadays, but its contribution to employment is still substantial. In many countries it is at the heart of the region’s water crisis as it withdraws about 80 per cent of water resources. Agricultural constituencies have played an important role in sociopolitical transformations of the region. Populist regimes tried to win them over—as support base—with land reforms enacted in the 1950s and 1960s. Since the 1980s these earlier reforms have been pushed back and the sector has been liberalised under bureaucratic-authoritarian reform coalitions. In other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, extensive production subsidies have been maintained. The MENA region is the largest cereal importer in the world and its governments regard this dependency as a strategic liability. However, the quest for self-sufficiency has proven to be elusive in the light of natural constraints and population growth. The major challenge in MENA is not macro food security or lack of calories, but deficiencies of micronutrients such as vitamins and iron and a lack of accessible food for the poor. Hence, inclusive growth, rural livelihood strategies, and political participation will be crucial for food security in MENA.

Review of Oil for Food

The Graduate Association for Food Studies has published a review of my Oil for Food book, saying that

“The extremely well-researched book takes a historical and political economic approach to examine food security in Gulf countries at a regional and national level. […] This book adds to the dearth of food-focused books about the Middle East. It does an excellent job of connecting disparate strains of political and economic policies, organizations, and actions into a coherent narrative. Despite the book’s focus on larger government-instituted policies, it does not fail to recognize the importance of more local desires of people near and on agro-investment lands in developing countries. The book also provides valuable insight into the historical and psychological reasons for a fear of food insecurity in the Gulf.”

 

Nexus article in Oxford Handbook of Water Politics and Policy

Martin Keulertz, Jeanie Sowers, Rabi Mohtar and I have just published an article on the The Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Arid Regions: The Politics of Problemsheds in the Oxford Handbook of Water Politics and Policy.

Abstract:

Systems of producing, consuming, and distributing water, energy, and food involve trade-offs that are rarely explicitly considered by firms and policymakers. The idea of the water-energy-food “nexus” represents an attempt to formalize these trade-offs into decision-making processes. Multinational food and beverage firms operating in arid regions were early promoters of nexus approaches, followed by aid donors, consultancies, and international institutions seeking a new paradigm for resource management and development planning. The first generation of nexus research focused on quantitative input-output modeling to empirically demonstrate interdependencies and options for optimizing resource management. This chapter employs a different approach, analyzing institutional “problemsheds” that shape the implementation of nexus initiatives in arid regions of the United States, the Persian/Arabian Gulf, and China. Our analysis reveals how nexus approaches are conditioned by property rights regimes, economic growth strategies based on resource extraction, and the ability to externalize environmental costs to other regions and states.

Keywords: Water-energy-food nexus, resource management, development, arid regions, China, United States, Persian/Arabian Gulf