Barcelona Center for International Affairs

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona Center for International Affairs

Barcelona, Spain
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Woertz E.,Barcelona Center for International Affairs | Woertz E.,The Saints
Food Security | Year: 2017

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. © 2017 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology

Maynou L.,University of Girona | Maynou L.,CIBER ISCIII | Maynou L.,London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine | Saez M.,University of Girona | And 4 more authors.
Regional Studies | Year: 2014

Maynou L., Saez M., Kyriacou A. and Bacaria J. The impact of Structural and Cohesion Funds on Eurozone convergence, 1990–2010, Regional Studies. Ever since the launch of the European integration process, and in particular in the context of Economic and Monetary Union, the European Union has endeavoured to facilitate economic convergence across Europe by providing funds to its poorer regions and countries. The main objective of this paper is to analyse whether the Structural and Cohesion Funds have contributed towards convergence between the Eurozone countries during the past two decades, 1990–2010. The results of the spatio-temporal econometric model specified in this paper illustrate that these funds have positively contributed to the gross domestic product per inhabitant (GDPPC) growth of receiving regions, thus allowing them to reach (conditional) convergence. © 2014 Regional Studies Association

Woertz E.,Barcelona Center for International Affairs | Keulertz M.,Purdue University
Food Security | Year: 2015

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is the world’s largest importer of food, especially of cereals, sugar and poultry. Tropical regions have gained growing importance as suppliers of such commodities in recent decades. Latin America and Africa in particular have been identified as sources of future agricultural growth that could provide exportable surpluses to the MENA and other food import dependent regions, such as East Asia. Foreign investors, host governments, local communities and international organizations are crucial actors in these agricultural expansion processes, which do, however, entail ecological and socio-economic risks. The article provides a historical perspective of tropical agriculture and the MENA in various food regimes since the 19th century. It then outlines the importance of tropical agriculture and the MENA in global food trade flows and analyzes to what extent the MENA relies on countries with tropical agriculture in its food trade. Finally, it takes a look at agricultural investment flows from the MENA to the tropics. Associated political and socio-economic issues are analyzed, reasons for a marked implementation gap are identified and finally how such investments might relate to MENA food security strategies is discussed. © 2015 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology

Jaafar H.H.,American University of Beirut | Woertz E.,Barcelona Center for International Affairs
Food Policy | Year: 2016

Agriculture is an important source of income for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS), which currently rules over large parts of the breadbaskets of the two countries. It has received limited attention compared to other sources of ISIS revenues such as oil, looting, ransom, foreign donations and various forms of taxation. We estimate winter crops production of wheat and barley in ISIS-controlled areas in both Syria and Iraq for the years 2014–2015 and irrigated summer crops production (cotton) in Northeast Syria. We show that remote sensing can give a credible estimation of agricultural production in the absence of statistics. With evidence from MODIS Aqua and Terra Satellites as well as Landsat imagery, we find that agricultural production in ISIS-controlled Syrian and Iraqi zones has been sustained in 2014 and 2015, despite the detrimental impact of conflict. After a drought in 2014 production was able to capitalize on improved rainfalls in 2015. First indications show that the winter grain harvest of 2016 in Iraqi territories of ISIS was significantly above pre-conflict mean and below pre-conflict mean in its Syrian territories. We also show how water flows along the Euphrates have impacted production. We estimate the revenue that ISIS can derive from wheat and barley production and the likely magnitude of an exportable surplus. Agricultural production gives the group a degree of resilience, although its economy is not sustainable in the longer run and could be affected by military collapse. Taxation of recurrent income streams such as agriculture will become more important for ISIS as its extractive sources of revenues show signs of dwindling. Beside non-grain food imports, agricultural production is crucial for its political legitimacy by ensuring food provision to the broader population. Food security considerations would require a high priority in any post-ISIS reconstruction effort and would need to include the rehabilitation of supply chains for agricultural inputs such as quality seeds and fertilizers. © 2016 The Author(s)

Woertz E.,Barcelona Center for International Affairs
Globalizations | Year: 2013

In the wake of the 2008 global food crisis and export restrictions imposed by major food exporters, Gulf states announced plans for foreign agro-investments, including major land deals, in the name of national of food security. Media reporting has often conveyed an inaccurate picture of these land deals since project implementation has lagged far behind official announcements. This essay analyzes Gulf states' land deals against the backdrop of domestic politics, strategic vulnerabilities, and earlier agro-investments in the Sudan during the 1970s. Approaches among Gulf states diverge considerably, most notably in the case of Saudi Arabia and Qatar that have created new governance institutions to coordinate food security policies and land investments. Gulf states have also increased their profile on the world stage and now their prominent role in the global land grab requires them to navigate new political spaces, including engagement with global civil society, water politics in countries where they are investing, and in emerging global governance initiatives related to food security and investment in land. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Keulertz M.,Purdue University | Woertz E.,Barcelona Center for International Affairs
International Journal of Water Resources Development | Year: 2015

The Water–Energy–Food (WEF) nexus is a development challenge in the Arab world, particularly in the ‘core nexus countries’ with low to mid-incomes in which limited water endowments permit agricultural production, such as Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, Algeria, Sudan and Jordan. The WEF nexus is often conceptualized in mere technocratic terms, yet politics matter in the implementation of projects that address it. Internalizing hydrological externalities or leaving them as they are and financing them as a public good requires states whose capacities have been reduced as a result of neoliberal reform. The article explores five different pathways of how Arab countries could finance green growth projects ranging from regional financial markets to concessionary loans by funds from oil rich Gulf countries. © 2015, © 2015 Taylor & Francis.

Carafa L.,Barcelona Center for International Affairs
Energy Procedia | Year: 2015

For MENA countries, transitioning to renewables primarily depends on transnational challenges of financial and infrastructural nature that cannot be tackled at national level. New renewable energy cooperation structures with the MENA were recently established in an attempt to manage interdependence problems. Drawing on a case study of renewable energy policy and markets in the MENA, this article aims at assessing the actual capacity of emerging cooperation structures to thoroughly manage the governance gap behind the transition to renewable energy technologies across the MENA. This article argues that politics have prevailed over policy, with concrete negative implications in terms of renewable energy finance towards the MENA. It concludes that far more synergic governance structures are needed to overcome the many (non-political) barriers that still hinder the take-up of renewables across the MENA. © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

News Article | October 11, 2016

Oil sales, extortion, and looting have received large amounts of attention as tactics used by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) to generate revenue. A study published in the October issue of Food Policy highlights the need to also consider how a less explored strategy--agricultural production--also contributes to the profits of ISIS. “We didn’t approach this from a political perspective,” says Hadi Jaafar, an assistant professor of agriculture at the American University of Beirut. He co-authored the paper with Eckart Woertz, a senior researcher at the Barcelona Center for International Affairs. Rather than examining the group’s politics and terrorist tactics, the researchers wanted to shift the focus to their objective of becoming a state. To do so, Woertz says there needs to be an understanding of where a state’s income comes from, whether that funding is sustainable, and what may happen if its revenue is exhausted. In 2013 and 2014, the ISIS occupied large portions Iraq’s Ninewa Province and the Jazirah region of Syria, both known breadbaskets in the region. While it is not clear whether their occupation was strategic for the agricultural value, the usage of a book called The Management of Savagery by ISIS is notable. The jihadist manual serves to instruct how to build a statelike structure and recognizes the role agriculture could play in establishing a functional caliphate. “Agriculture is a direct funding source of ISIS and has a relative limited amount of attention compared to oil. I would argue oil has attracted far too much attention compared to its current importance,” says Woertz. He points out that ISIS oil production has not been that significant in comparison to regional standards and refining it requires a sophisticated knowledge due to its lower quality. Further, oil production levels by ISIS may have been exaggerated and also appear to be declining. Jaafar adds that food contrasts from other revenue sources. He tells me, “Agriculture is not only an income source. It kind of provides social support for ISIS in areas, because when farmers plant, they operate and are doing business as usual in these areas. This can be good for ISIS.” It also has more continuity and reliability than black market sales of antiquities or ransom and the image of a food secure area that is capable of feeding a region can also be used as propaganda. Obtaining accurate information about the economy of ISIS occupied territories can be challenging, so the researchers used an innovative approach to gather data on agricultural production in the region. In addition to statistically controlling for rainfall to isolate the conflict’s impact on crops, they used remote sensing analysis combined with pre-conflict data from governments in Syria and Iraq and an enhanced vegetation index from satellite imagery over irrigated and cultivated areas of both countries. “From this relationship, you can estimate with a strong degree of certainty the annual amount of production for those agricultural areas,” explains Jaafar. “We applied this relationship to the years after the war where data was not available (2014, 2015, and Spring 2016) and then came up with the figures of production.” Despite the instability and conflict, the researchers’ data indicated agricultural production has been sustained in ISIS held territories. Although production of summer irrigated crops--primarily cotton--had declined, winter crops such as wheat and barley fared better. Woertz and Jaafar estimate there were 2.45 million tons of wheat produced in ISIS territories in 2015, providing nearly the same value as oil during its highest production time, contributing $56 million from their taxation and even creating a surplus (though part of that is attributed to the population decline in the area). Of the 2.45 million tons of wheat produced, 0.85 million tons were consumed domestically. It’s difficult to ascertain exactly how the remaining 1.6 million tons of excess wheat were used due to the political nature of the question. It’s known that ISIS trades oil and gas with other rebel groups and the Syrian government. Expert knowledge suggests this may also occur with surplus wheat.   The researchers’ findings underscore the importance of understanding the critical role of agriculture as a funding source of ISIS. As Woertz notes, they also emphasize the need to anticipate the region’s future food security. Quality of seeds decline after three to four cycles, meaning the agricultural system is likely to collapse and contribute to the unsustainability of the ISIS economy. He says, “Our argument is that planning for post-ISIS reconstruction period food security issues in agriculture should have a high priority. Agricultural systems, especially irrigated agriculture, have suffered massively and need to be rebuilt in both countries. It is important to keep this in mind.”

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