Food security for a planet under pressure - rio+20 policy brief
rio+20 policy brief #2: Food security for a planet under pressure 1rio+20 policy brief #2Food security for a planetunder pressureTransition to sustainability: interconnectedchallenges and solutions Photo: istockphoto/LORENZO CODACCIThe challenge of feeding the world efficiently and equitably is considerable, but not insurmountable.Achieving food security for all, both now and in the future, depends on putting in place a strong foundationof multi-lateral and cooperative mechanisms that work across disciplines, sectors and national boundaries.Institutions operating effectively at multiple levels will be at the centre of sustainable food systems; thesewill need to be flexible, promote appropriate use of innovative technologies and policies, and recognize theincreasingly important role of non-state actors in enhancing food systems. Above all, there is need for astrong focus on resilience, equity and sustainability. This brief sets out broad guidelines to help policy anddecision makers work towards adopting a more coordinated and integrated approach to food security issues.Rio+20 Policy BriefsOne of nine policy briefs produced by the scientific community to inform the United Nations Conference on SustainableDevelopment (Rio+20). These briefs were commissioned by the international conference Planet Under Pressure: NewKnowledge Towards Solutions (www.planetunderpressure2012.net).
2Summary of key points and policy recommendations The food security Adopting a food Meeting the challenge challenge systems approachzz Food security is fundamentally zz A food systems approach links zz Food systems of the future will linked to both socioeconomic the activities of producing, need to enhance food security systems and environmental processing, retailing and while minimizing further conditions. consuming food with the environmental degradation.zz Changes in climate and in other outcomes of these activities for zz Multiple pathways will be key environmental factors will food security and other societal needed to deliver a greener significantly complicate the goals. economy and greener food achievement of food security zz A food systems approach systems; these include reducing for all. can help to show how food waste at all stages of the foodzz It is imperative to reduce insecurity arises and also system and greater involvement hunger and poverty in the provides a framework for policy of the private sector in planning context of structural shifts development to meet the food and decision making. in demand and supply, security challenge. zz There is an urgent need to driven by population growth, zz A food systems approach develop technologies and income growth and global provides a framework for multi- policies that will result in environmental change. scale, multi-level analyses of sustainable productionzz The challenges of food security, the dynamic linkages between practices. natural resource use and food security, environmental zz More integrated planning and environmental change call concerns and development greater cross-system coherence for countries to renew their issues. across the global food security efforts to work together in the zz Food trade needs to be agenda are needed. management of global public enhanced to encourage secure zz A transition to healthier diets as goods. access to nutritious food for the societies grow richer is needed poorest and most vulnerable. to reduce both environmental zz Novel institutional and public health burdens. arrangements together with innovating and enabling policies will promote cooperation between public and private investors in food systems.
rio+20 policy brief #2: Food security for a planet under pressure 3 THE FOOD SECURITY CHALLENGE Food security is met when “all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (FAO, 2002)D espite a marked increase according to resources and wealth as of food security, i.e., the stability in global food production well as changing patterns of supply of food availability, access and use. over the past half century, and demand (see box). However, Those whose livelihoods are bound around one billion people meeting demand (as expressed by closely with food production and do not have enough to eat, markets) will not address the food who have low coping capacity areand a further billion lack adequate needs of the poor; the food-insecure most vulnerable to the effects of GEC,nutrition. Continuing population remain so largely because their which may include crop failure, attackgrowth over the next 50 years, incomes are too low or prices are too from pests and diseases, and watercoupled with increasing consumption high. The likelihood of increasing shortage. In the short term, climateby a wealthier population, is likely food price volatility will continue to change will affect food securityto raise global food demand still affect the poorest more than most. through more frequent and intensehigher. Meeting this demand will Furthermore, many vulnerable parts episodes of extreme weather, whilebe complicated by changes in of the world remain in the grip of longer-term effects include changingenvironmental factors (collectively poor governance and conflict, which patterns of rainfall and temperaturetermed ‘global environmental undermine physical, social and as well as soil degradation andchange’, GEC), including climate, economic access to food. biodiversity loss. At the same time,biodiversity, water availability, land people across the globe may faceuse, tropospheric ozone and other GEC further compromises food rising food prices in the absence ofpollutants, and sea-level rise. These security for those already prone to a production response to increasedchanges are themselves caused hunger because it affects all aspects demand, disease outbreaks and crisespartly by food system activities(e.g., excessive use of nitrogenfertilizers leading to eutrophicationof freshwater and coastal systems,greenhouse gas emissions, and lossof ‘wild-land’ biodiversity leading toreduced ecosystem services such aspollination, biological control, etc.).The effects of these food system‘feedbacks’ on the environment areexacerbated by GEC interacting withcompetition for resources from suchchanging land uses as production of Photo: istockphoto/GUENTER GUNIfeedstocks for biofuels.While elements of GEC are alliedclosely to food production practices,food insecurity is not simply aproblem of supply. The worldcurrently produces sufficient foodfor all, but it is distributed unequally
4of water management, together with resources and socioeconomic factors a particular research focus onbroader impacts on local and national mean that close coordination among key crops, including those mosteconomies. multiple sectors is vital. Stronger relevant for vulnerable countries and links must be forged between populations.While there is scope to increase sectors relating to agriculture,global food production, future fisheries, environment, trade, energy, A more joined-up approach shouldapproaches and technologies must be transportation, marketing, health involve integrated analyses of food,based on sustainable approaches to and consumer goods. In taking climate, environment, population andintensification, with the public goods forward action agreed internationally, socio-economic systems. The resultsprovided by natural ecosystems (e.g., including through the G20 Action will guide cross-sectoral decisionwater and carbon storage) taken Plan, countries should adopt a making and the integrated responsesinto account wherever possible. The sustainable and integrated approach needed to address food security andcomplex interactions within and to promoting improvements in support sustainable and resilientbetween the food system, natural productivity. This implies adopting livelihoods for future generations. Changing patterns of supply and demand In addition to continuing population growth, coupled with increasing consumption by a wealthier population in general, three issues are of particular importance in the food security debate: Urbanization and increasing wealth Over half of the world’s population now lives in an urban environment. Where this is associated with increased affluence, it increases consumption expectations, thereby raising food demand per capita and local prices. However, the urban poor spend a large proportion of their income on food and are acutely sensitive to food price fluctuations. Urban development is also eating into prime agricultural land and, in many cities, nutrients are accumulating in waste instead of being returned to agricultural areas. Globalization Growing interconnectedness between food, energy and financial markets can lead to greater volatility in global food prices, sparked by both rising demand and competition for resources. Geographic interconnectedness of food markets per se has however increased food availability internationally and is likely to reduce global food price volatility. But its impact in any given country varies, depending on such market conditions and policy measures as import duties, export taxes and subsidies. In cases where such measures hinder the competitiveness of domestic producers, better market access and information systems are needed to help poor producers take advantage of new and emerging opportunities. Changing consumption patterns As people in the rapidly developing nations (e.g., China) Photo: istockphoto/FOTOVOYAGER become wealthier, they increase demand for processed food, meat, fish and dairy products. Such food often has a larger environmental ‘footprint’ than less processed food, and the larger volumes demanded by more affluent people cause even greater environmental impacts. The changing nature of demand offers both opportunities and threats to farmers, with those having better access to information, resources and markets set to benefit most. Multinational food retailers are becoming more powerful in negotiating prices with farmers and other suppliers. For the rural poor, the key challenge is to match supply and demand across the seasons, which calls for improvements in post-harvest handling, storage and distribution as well as better access to insurance and credit.
rio+20 policy brief #2: Food security for a planet under pressure 5 ADOPTING A FOOD SYSTEMS APPROACH “Adopting a food systems approach improves understanding of the interactions between food security and environmental or other stresses, thereby clarifying decision making regarding appropriate policy options.”W hile increased water and energy) as well as a of cash transfers may be necessary productivity will play reduction in waste throughout the to cope with price shocks) an important role, food chain. zz provides a level playing field for the key to global food producers around the world (i.e., security lies in creating A resilient food system: market access)more equitable access to food and zz can withstand economic and zz is supported by researchmore resilient food systems. A food environmental shocks and stresses and development (R&D) andsystems approach (see box) provides at different levels innovation systems that catera framework to identify which food zz has redundancy built in (e.g., to the needs of the poor andsystem activity is vulnerable to effective systems for storing the rich alike (i.e., provide newwhat stress(es), thereby showing adequate amounts of food and for technologies with relevance towhere given adaptation and their distribution in times of crisis) poor regions).mitigation interventions would be zz is supported by strong multilateralmost effective. The food systems cooperation mechanisms Food systems are becomingof the future will need to match equipped to coordinate collective increasingly complex, with multiplechanging patterns of food supply responses to food shocks across interactions at several levels onand demand in ways that are national boundaries. a range of spatial, temporal andboth environmentally and socially other scales. They are dependent onsustainable. This includes making a An equitable food system: and influence biogeochemical anddramatic increase in the efficiency zz ensures adequate amounts of socioeconomic processes. Their highwith which resources are used nutritious food are accessible to all dependence on energy and water(notably germplasm, nutrients, (social protection and other forms requires ever-closer coordination between practice and policy for these sectors, as well as with sectors responsible for the environment, trade and transportation, marketing and consumption. This gives rise to substantial institutional complexity, with multiple actors operating within different institutional frameworks. The food systems of the future will therefore need to be based on innovative interdisciplinary research, Photo: istockphoto/SIMON GURNEY enhanced science–policy dialogue, and greater institutional and societal flexibility. Private sector research now dominates technological developments for several key food and feed crops so private and non- governmental organizations must be included in future decision making.
6 What is a food systems approach? Food systems involve: zz a set of activities related to producing, processing, distributing, marketing, preparing and consuming food; and zz the outcomes of these activities contributing to food security (food availability, food access and food utilization, all stable over time) and to other socioeconomic (e.g., wealth) and environmental (e.g., greenhouse gas emissions) issues. A food systems approach systematically connects the activities of food producers, processors, distributors, retailers and consumers involved in food systems with food security and other outcomes. This helps in a number of ways: 1. Providing a checklist to help ensure the necessary issues are included in dialogues aimed at enhancing food security (especially in the context of other goals) and identifying the range of actors and other interested parties who should be involved. 2. Assessing the impacts of GEC on food systems by focusing on multiple vulnerabilities in the context of socioeconomic stresses. 3. Determining the main limiting factors that lead to food insecurity, thereby identifying intervention points for enhancing food security. By systematically connecting the food system activities with the food security and other outcomes, the approach helps unravel the complexity inherent in food systems: it frames the interactions as dynamic and interdependent processes that are embedded in social, political, economic, historical and environmental contexts. Adopting a food systems approach improves understanding of the interactions between food security and environmental or other stresses, thereby clarifying decision making regarding appropriate policy options. Food System Activities Producing food: natural resources, inputs, markets . . . Processing and packaging food: raw materials, standards, storage requirements . . . Distributing and retailing food: transport, marketing, advertising . . . Consuming food: acquisition, preparation, customs . . . Food System Outcomes Contributing to: Social Welfare Food Security, i.e., stability over time for: Environmental Welfare Income Ecosystem stocks and Employment flows Wealth Food utilization Food access Ecosystem services Social capital Nutritional Affordability Access to natural capital value Allocation Political capital Social value Preference Human capital Food safety Food availability Production Distribution Exchange Food system activities and outcomes (adapted from Ingram et al., 2010)
rio+20 policy brief #2: Food security for a planet under pressure 7 MEETING THE CHALLENGE Photo: istockphoto/FRANK VAN DEN BERG “The challenges of food security, natural resource use and GEC call for countries to renew their efforts to work together in the management of global public goods”S ince human development prices, nutrition scales; and proxies and food security are closely such as childhood stunting, see figure interlinked, ensuring a on next page), but key indicators that Greening the sustainable future means making substantial changes in signal future trends in food security overall are difficult to identify. While a economythe way food is produced, processed, composite index that combines some The route to more sustainabledistributed and consumed. This will elements of food availability, access food systems and economiesrequire scientific, technological and and utilization with measures of takes many different pathspolicy innovations that must be economic development and political and includes more sustainableendorsed strongly by the political stability could be useful, it needs to use of energy and patternssector, implemented by the public be recognized that trade-offs exist of consumption, as well asand private sectors, and embraced by between these elements. sustainable intensification ofsociety as a whole. food production. Agroecological The challenges of food security, approaches based on a rangeThe issue of sustainable food natural resource use and GEC call for of technologies and levels ofproduction must be rooted firmly at countries to renew their efforts to production, improved foodthe centre of all efforts to improve work together in the management systems understanding andfood security and advance human of global public goods. This includes enhanced management willdevelopment. Ensuring the poorest greater cross-system coherence play important roles. Povertyand most vulnerable have sufficient and integrated planning across reduction and greening of theaccess to food means making institutional frameworks. New economy must be regarded asfundamental changes in the way institutional arrangements are complementary not competingglobal economies function (including needed to promote cooperation goals, since sustainable food‘greening’ the economy, see box), between public and private investors systems protect the assets oncoupled with social changes in terms in food systems and to recognize which the livelihoods of the poorof consumption patterns. the rapidly expanding role of non- depend. Enabling policies andPolitical action is greatly enhanced state actors. Finally, institutions institutions are therefore neededby the setting of targets, but the must adopt a more flexible approach to support the creation of realmulti-dimensional aspects of to encourage more equitable and opportunities for economicfood security mean it is difficult to sustainable consumer choice. This development among poormeasure, particularly globally. Some will require enhanced food system communities.indices are available in respect of food governance, since poor governanceavailability, access and utilization and conflict are among the key drivers(e.g., agricultural productivity, food of food insecurity.
8Stunting prevalence Countries experiencing chronic food insecurity, as indicated by a high prevalence of stunting in children% under 5 (2000–2008 aged less than 5 years. This indicator can be used as a proxy for coping capacity, since an inability to tackle =20 chronic food insecurity indicates a number of institutional, economic and political issues in addition to 20–30 those associated with food production. (Adapted from Ericksen et al., 2011.) 30–40 40–50 50 no dataReferences and further reading Compiled by:Ericksen P.J. et al., 2011. Mapping FAO, 2010. Climate Smart Agriculture, John Ingram (Natural EnvironmentHotspots of Climate Change and Food Policies, Practices and Financing Research Council, UK: Convenor),Insecurity in the Global Tropics. Climate for Food Security, Adaptation and Pramod Aggarwal (Climate Change,Change, Agriculture and Food Security Mitigation. Food and Agriculture Agriculture and Food Security), Polly(CCAFS) Report no. 5. http://ccafs. Organization of the United Nations: Ericksen (International Livestockcgiar.org/resources/climate_hotspots. Rome, Italy. Research Programme), Peter Gregory (East Malling Research, UK),Evans, L.T. 1998. Feeding the Ten G20 Agriculture Ministers, 2011. Leo Horn-Phathanothai (UnitedBillion: Plants and Population Ministerial Declaration: Action plan on Nations Development Programme),Growth. Cambridge University Press: food price volatility and agriculture. Alison Misselhorn (University ofCambridge, UK. Meeting of G20 Agriculture Ministers, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa), Paris, 22 and 23 June 2011. Keith Wiebe (Food and AgricultureFAO, 2002. The State of Food Insecurity Organization of the United Nations).in the World (SOFI) 2001. Food and Ingram, J.S.I., Ericksen, P.J. andAgriculture Organization of the United Liverman, D.M. (Eds.) 2010. FoodNations: Rome, Italy. Security and Global Environmental Change. Earthscan: London, UK.FAO, 2010. The State of Food Insecurityin the World (SOFI): Addressing food UK Government Foresight, 2011. Theinsecurity in protracted crises. Food Future of Food and Farming. Finaland Agriculture Organization of the Project Report. The GovernmentUnited Nations: Rome, Italy. Office for Science: London, UK.Editing, design and layout: Green Ink, UK (www.greenink.co.uk)