14 May 2019
The current food production system fails to meet the needs of the current population, while causing major impacts to the environment. Taking an integrated view of these problems shows the way towards policies to change the system, according to a new comment published in the journal Nature by researchers at IIASA and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).
“Threats to agriculture, climate, and health are entwined. Yet policies treat each in isolation and are misaligned,” write the authors, which included SDSN Executive Director Guido Schmidt-Traub, IIASA Ecosystems Services and Management Program Director Michael Obersteiner, and IIASA and SDSN researcher Aline Mosnier.
Schmidt-Traub says, “The commentary lays out three key areas for policymakers to focus on to help create effective integrated food policy. We suggest that the integrated solution strategies should be organized along three principle pillars: Efficient and resilient agricultural systems; conservation and restoration of biodiversity, and food security and healthy diets.”
“There are competing priorities across these pillars,” explains Obersteiner. “Countries need systems analysis tools to better assess synergies and trade-offs when making policy choices concerning the food system.”
The article draws on findings from the SDSN’s Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, and in-depth country policy support projects for food and land use carried out by IIASA. To support countries to jointly work towards the SDGs both organizations have launched a policy-science co-design project under the title Food, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Land Use and Energy (FABLE).
“In practice, an integrated food policy would include changes in agricultural practices, shifting diets and production from meat towards more fruit and vegetables, as well as technological improvements in farming that minimize environmental impact (such as drip irrigation), and methods to allow increased yield on smaller amounts of land,” says Aline Mosnier, the science director of the FABLE consortium.
Projects such as FABLE support policymakers with the tools to anticipate impacts across sectors, and design more integrated and effective agricultural, health, and environmental policies.
Schmidt-Traub G, Obersteiner M, & Mosnier A (2019). Fix the broken food system in three steps. Nature 569, 181-183. [pure.iiasa.ac.at/15900]
The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) mobilizes scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society, and the private sector to support practical problem solving for sustainable development at local, national, and global scales. The SDSN has been operating since 2012 under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General. The SDSN is building national and regional networks of knowledge institutions, solution-focused thematic networks, and the SDG Academy, an online university for sustainable development.
Last edited: 14 May 2019
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