30 April 2022, New Delhi: Dr Mike Rivington, a senior scientist within the James Hutton Institute’s Information and Computational Sciences department, has contributed evidence to a session of the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee of the Scottish Parliament on the war in Ukraine and its impact on food supply and security in Scotland and beyond.
During the session, which also featured experts from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, Trinity College Dublin, Scotland’s Rural College and National Farmers Union Scotland, Dr Rivington said that a strategic outlook is needed to improve the resilience of Scotland’s food systems in the face of major shocks like the conflict in Ukraine, COVID-19 or climate change.
Dr Rivington said: “There is a need to move away from the current ‘just in time’ approach to how the food system operates, which leaves us vulnerable to shocks, to a ‘just in case’ strategy that will help build resilience.
“COVID-19 was a demand-side shock affecting the most vulnerable people in particular as they could not afford food, whereas the current war in Ukraine and the consequences on food security is a production shock. The additional impact from rising energy costs has driven up prices which will result in increasing food insecurity for many people.
“We must not lose sight of long-term objectives – there is a risk that current responses reinforce the current system, which results in continued vulnerability to future shocks. Instead, we need a transformation in the food system to meet multiple objectives for food security, climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection.”
Dr Rivington’s evidence drew from the findings of a recent research project on the impact of COVID-19 on UK food and nutrition security, and his intervention can be watched below (video courtesy of Scottish Parliament TV).