The Ukraine war and threats to food and energy security

Cascading risks from rising prices and supply disruptions
Research paper Published 13 April 2022 Updated 14 September 2022 ISBN: 978 1 78413 522 5 DOI: 10.55317/9781784135225
Farmers work on a bombed farm outside Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Global resource markets are still reeling from the impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; the two countries are major suppliers of energy, food and fertilizers. Supply disruption and the sudden imposition, in response to the crisis, of unprecedented economic sanctions, trade restrictions and policy interventions have caused prices of commodities to skyrocket. 

Before the conflict, demand for global resources already exceeded supply and drove up prices as economies rebounded after the COVID-19 pandemic. This gave rise to a global cost-of-living crisis, characterized by increasing levels of energy and food poverty. This situation is likely to become much worse as a consequence of the war in Ukraine, and poses a threat to human security, particularly among low-income and vulnerable populations.

Governments must invest now to build resilient societies and economies to meet these long-term challenges. Mitigating the most immediate harms to populations is a top priority for policymakers, but failure to keep long-term objectives in mind – climate change mitigation, in particular – can lead to bad decisions that further embed existing fragilities in economic and social systems.