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WASHINGTON— Combating hunger can help prevent conflict, according to a new report from the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program, which recommends that food assistance and peacebuilding programs work together to better accomplish their goals.

“Hungry people are unhappy people, as we saw in many of the Arab Spring countries. The politics and food security need to be tackled together – and Harvesting Peace helps explain how.” – Jane Harman, Director, President, and CEO, Wilson Center.

Since 2008, when rapid increases in the prices for major grains helped to trigger outbreaks of civil unrest in more than 40 countries, scholars and policymakers have paid increased attention to the potential influence of global food prices on social and political instability. Compelling and provocative headlines have suggested that there is a direct relationship between food insecurity and conflict. However, Harvesting Peace: Food Security, Conflict, and Cooperation – the latest edition of ECSP Report – finds that the story is more complicated than those claims often imply.

“Conflict and food are intertwined in ways that affect the lives of millions of hungry and disenfranchised people,” says Roger-Mark De Souza, Director of Population, Environmental Change, and Security at the Wilson Center. “Harvesting Peace provides a framework and analysis for understanding and addressing these dynamics in hunger and conflict hotspots and provides an opportunity for informed dialogue to make a difference in the lives of those most affected.”

Drawing insights from scholars and humanitarian organizations, the report recommends more collaboration between peacekeepers and food programs. “With acute food insecurity as a key element of conflict, long-term perspectives must accommodate short-term solutions as well. Both humanitarian assistance and development tools must be wielded with skill and sensitivity – and in tandem,” writes Emmy Simmons, author of the report.

On September 12 from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. Harvesting Peace will be launched at the Wilson Center by author Emmy Simmons, with commentary by Susan Bradley, Henk-Jan Brinkman, and Edward Carr.


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Environmental Change and Security Program

The Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) explores the connections between environmental, health, and population dynamics and their links to conflict, human insecurity, and foreign policy.  Read more