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NTS Bulletin

NTS Bulletin March 2011 (Issue 1)

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The North Korean Food Security Crisis

Since the end of January 2011, the state of food security in North Korea has been in question.

External factors, particularly the recent spike in global food prices and the suspension of food aid support from major donors such as the US and South Korea between 2008 and 2009, have contributed to this situation. According to some reports, the delayed arrival of food aid from North Korea’s northern ally, China, has also aggravated food shortages. 

The food crisis is exacerbated by a multitude of internal factors, including reported inequitable distribution of available food aid; foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks reportedly killing thousands of draught oxen, cows and pigs; and the country enduring its coldest winter since 1945, with frigid temperatures adversely affecting agricultural outputs. As a result, North Korean rice prices have hit record highs and the United Nations (UN) has warned that up to 5 million North Koreans are at risk of famine.

In response to this, North Korea has requested that the US resume its food aid programme and has pledged to allow international monitors to oversee food distribution to the public. The World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have also begun missions to North Korea to assess the food security situation.

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News & Commentaries

Selected Publications

This research article provides a macroeconomic assessment of sectoral approaches for developing countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The result indicates that the electricity generation business, despite some limitations, can provide approximately 80 per cent of the global emissions reductions achieved in the cap-and-trade system.

This report reviews events that took place in some Asian cities in 2010 with regard to air quality, climate change and transportation. It argues that there is an urgent need for policymakers to focus on sustainable development to create liveable Asian cities and provides insights on ways for doing so.

This paper seeks to examine the security impacts of climate change in three Southeast Asian cross-border areas: the Greater Mekong Subregion, the Heart of Borneo and the Coral Triangle. It suggests that sound adaptation strategies are essential to increasing communities’ adaptive capacity and resilience to climate change.

This paper examines the Chinese government’s efforts in focusing on floodplain restoration rather than engineering solutions to manage flooding in the Yangtze River Basin. This change in approach came about particularly after the massive flooding along the Yangtze in 1998. These climate adaptation measures were incorporated into the country’s 2007 National Climate Change Programme.

Events & Announcements

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News & Commentaries

Selected Publications

This report studies the growing investments of major Chinese state-owned oil companies overseas, by assessing their motivations and the strategies employed to expand overseas, as well as examining their overseas acquisitions. It looks at the relationship between these oil companies and the Chinese government and also discusses the impact of the expansion of these companies on the region.

This article studies the recent developments in offshore renewable energy, such as offshore wind and ocean energy in the Asia-Pacific region. It examines the respective strengths and weaknesses of China, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand in this emerging energy sector. It also discusses the environmental impact of developing offshore renewable energy and the need to improve legal and regulatory frameworks in this regard.

This policy brief discusses the costs and risks of promoting the use of nuclear energy against the backdrop of a ‘nuclear renaissance’ in the Asia-Pacific. It identifies five points to be considered for efficient management of nuclear energy. It also puts forward recommendations on how to proceed with nuclear energy plans more safely.

Events & Announcements

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News & Commentaries

Selected Publications

The report studies the farming systems in Africa, Asia and Latin America and argues that integrated food-energy systems (IFES) in which farmers simultaneously produce food and fuel could help boost food and energy security while reducing poverty. It seeks to demonstrate how barriers to integrating food and energy crop production can be overcome in order to promote such farming systems.

The book attempts to examine and expound on a wide range of issues affecting today’s global food landscape, including food prices, chronic hunger and famine, obesity, population growth, farming technologies, food aid, environmentalism and other aspects of food production and distribution in order to explore the debates surrounding the politics of food. The author argues that the application of new productive technologies is vital in addressing widespread food insecurity in vulnerable regions.

The Foresight ‘Global Food and Farming Futures’ project released this report which argues that the pressures on the global food system will intensify over the next 40 years and would present significant challenges to food security. As a result, it is crucial to address those pressures by making radical changes to the food system, spreading existing technology to the developing world to increase production yields and investing in research to come up with creative solutions in order to create a sustainable global food system for the future and to tackle hunger.

The report is a summation of the presentations and discussions that took place at the Food Security Expert Group Meeting organised by the RSIS Centre for NTS Studies on 4–5 August 2010. The report analyses the challenges to food security and offers policy recommendations to address them. It also seeks to underline ways to strengthen and enhance urban food security and explores how food security information systems can contribute to securing food systems in Southeast Asia.

Events & Announcements

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News & Commentaries

Selected Publications

This editorial examines the influenza surveillance and control efforts and developments in the Western Pacific region. It assesses the region’s potential for being both an avian influenza source and an outbreak location and offers suggestions for how to better control, manage and respond to the pandemic influenza threat in the region.

This study analyses public donors’ priorities in the US and the European Union (EU) in funding HIV prevention in the period between 2000 and 2008. It concludes that the relative share of public funding for integrated condom programming dropped significantly, while that for research on vaccines and microbicides increased. Both parties were also found to have invested progressively more in research on vaccines and microbicides rather than addressing the shortage of condoms and improving access to integrated condom programming in developing countries.

This article explores the relationship between economic crises and health by examining evolving trends in changes in patterns of health risk, differential impacts of an economic crisis on the health of more vulnerable social groups and changes in demand for health services during different periods of an economic crisis. The article also formulates and suggests appropriate policy responses and strategies to mitigate an economic downturn’s negative impact on the health of populations.

This article provides an update on the global influenza A (H1N1) situation in the aftermath of the 2009 outbreak. It also outlines the WHO’s recommendations in the areas of surveillance, laboratory and virology procedures, vaccination, and clinical management in the post-pandemic period.

This NTS Alert takes a closer look at the relationship between development and health by reviewing the case of China, a nation which has witnessed great changes both in its economy and the health of its population in the decades since the Second World War. China’s experience shows that solid infrastructure, better nutrition and rising hygiene and sanitation standards are the foundation stones of improved health.

Events & Announcements

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About the Centre:

The Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies was inaugurated by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretary-General Dr Surin Pitsuwan in May 2008. The Centre maintains research in the fields of Food Security, Climate Change, Energy Security, Health Security as well as Internal and Cross-Border Conflict. It produces policy-relevant analyses aimed at furthering awareness and building capacity to address NTS issues and challenges in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. The Centre also provides a platform for scholars and policymakers within and outside Asia to discuss and analyse NTS issues in the region.

In 2009, the Centre was chosen by the MacArthur Foundation as a lead institution for the MacArthur Asia Security Initiative, to develop policy research capacity and recommend policies on the critical security challenges facing the Asia-Pacific.

The Centre is also a founding member and the Secretariat for the Consortium of Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies in Asia (NTS-Asia). More information on the Centre can be found at

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