, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 83-100
Date: 22 Aug 2008

Vulnerability of Inuit food systems to food insecurity as a consequence of climate change: a case study from Igloolik, Nunavut

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Abstract

This paper develops a conceptual model to examine the vulnerability of Inuit food systems to food insecurity as a consequence of climate change. The model illustrates that food system vulnerability is determined by the exposure and sensitivity of the food system to climate-related risks and its adaptive capacity to deal with those risks. The model is empirically applied using a case study from Igloolik, Nunavut. Specifically, the paper focuses on how extreme climate-related conditions in 2006 interacted with the food system to affect food security, using 2006 as a lens to identify and characterize some of the processes and conditions shaping vulnerability, and establishing a baseline for identifying and characterizing processes that are likely to shape future vulnerability. There is a high level of adaptive capacity among Igloolik Inuit, with food sharing mechanisms, hunting flexibility, and store-food access moderating the impact of climatic-risks on food security. However, high fuel and commodity prices, the increasing economic burden of adapting to back-to-back years with unfavorable climatic conditions, underlying community vulnerabilities, and the nature to the climate extremes in 2006, overwhelmed the adaptive capacity of many community members. Those dependent on traditional foods and having limited access to financial resources were particularly vulnerable.