On Tuesday May 24, Dr. David Ubilava from the University of Sidney gave a presentation entitled "The El Niño Southern Oscillation and Economic Growth”. Dr. Ubilava started the presentation with the definitions of such phenomena such as climate anomalies and weather and emphasized the importance of weather as a factor in agricultural production. He then explained the term El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), referring to the cyclical occurrence of unusually warm ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific, which affects climatic conditions around the globe and influences primary commodity production and food prices.

The study focuses on the 72 developing countries and applies two distinct measures of the ENSO cycle. Using regression modelling framework and annual data spanning the 1971–2013 period, this research investigates the effect of ENSO anomalies on economic growth in the countries of interest.

According to the results, almost half of the countries are affected by ENSO shocks in some way or another, exhibiting direct effects in many instances. The regions that experience droughts during El Niño episodes show reduction in economic growth. In terms of indirect effects and spillovers, it was found that many net exporters of primary commodities tend to show growth-enhancing response to the El Niño shock in the following year.

Dr. Ubilava concluded his presentation with policy implications and discussed the importance of forecasting El Niño allowing local governments and international community to “plan ahead, opt for and promote cultivation of drought-resistant crop varieties and reshuffle their aid programs and direct them to the most affected countries.

The presentation was followed by questions and a lively discussion.

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