Ecosystem sustainability, agricultural biodiversity and diet


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Metrics and sustainable diets was the focus of a presentation by Thomas Allen of Bioversity International delivered at the Joint Conference on Sustainable Diet and Food Security co-organized by the Belgian Nutrition Society, The Nutrition Society and Société Française de Nutrition on 28 and 29 May 2013 in Lille, France under the auspices of the Federation of European Nutrition Societies, a conference on Sustainable Diet and Food Security. : A system approach to assessing Sustainable Diets. Read more about Bioversity International’s work on diet diversity for nutrition and health

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  • SD: Economic Social Environmental + Nutrition Understanding what shape dietary consumption patterns is essential and requires to consider new drivers, other determinants: it makes SD a wider concept than SFS or SA.
  • Thomas: Food Security as defined by World Bank etc. has always been about quality (under utilization). The point is that addressing hunger is more than supply and access. But quality. Also not so clear in my mind why nutrition has to be at «its core » . Isn’t this saying that we have to have a pathway to improved nutrition and reduced poverty? Why nutrition-driven? - Food quality: Triple burden- under/over/malnutrition; - Dietary patterns: Diets (food consumption patterns) not just food; - Consumer-driven agriculture and food system. [Explain why we claim we should talk about « sustainable diets » (not just about « sustainable agriculture » or « sustainable food system »)] + Nutrition-driven offers the viewpoint we need to select and interpret indicators (social science indicators in particular)… however we agree we need a system-oriented approach. Contradictory?
  • Setting the Scene – A few words about the history of a concept: a FAO/BI joint effort etc. Food is produced, processed, distributed, and consumed every day. These activities have direct impacts on human health and on the environment (Duchin, 2005) ; Gussow and Clancy (1986) have first suggested the term « Sustainable Diet » to describe a diet composed of foods that are healthier for the environment as well as for consumers (Burlingame and Dernini, 2011) ; Diets are deeply entwined with many social and cultural issues, and are operated through complex food systems ; Needs for consensual and evidence-based definitions, metrics and tools.
  • SD: Economic Social Environmental + Nutrition Understanding what shape dietary consumption patterns is essential and requires to consider new drivers, other determinants: it makes SD a wider concept than SFS or SA.
  • SD: Economic Social Environmental + Nutrition Understanding what shape dietary consumption patterns is essential and requires to consider new drivers, other determinants: it makes SD a wider concept than SFS or SA.
  • System of indicators or system approach? Not contradictory. But system of indicators does not mean a system approach.
  • The Johns statement above is a little strong. Current ag and food industry has contributed to the unprecedented period in human history of virtual freedom from famine and risig income levels. Instead of undermining to altering in positive and negative ways…..
  • The transition to NUS is not clear here. This is only part of the issue and a small part perhaps.
  • The nutrients in the field do not translated to what people consume and process. Nutrient diversity is not the issue but the supply or availability of the nutrients. Also it is less about different species than varieties within a species.
  • Always functional diversity is more important for the foods we eat. Not number of species. Not sure you have to spend much time on biodiversity per se. YOU NEED TO DEFINE FUNCTION DIVERSITY
  • The text in the box is from where? If data is sufficient should be If data are sufficient. And “… directly related to diets” needs to be clarified.
  • The concept of sustainability has had as many definitions as people who have tried to define it. It was first interpreted as an approach to agriculture or food systems (certainly useful for motivating change). Toward a system property. There is a tradition in both the social and biophysical sciences of using the concept of a system to help in addressing complex problems with multi-causality resulting from interactions among interdependent components. Food systems have become increasingly complex and global. They include inputs, mechanisms, structures and actors contributing to the food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and metabolism Leaving nutrition and joining efforts – from a nutrition perspective to a multidisciplinary system approach
  • + simulation models allow prospective and diagnostic See attachment
  • It would be good to have an example of System analysis and simulation models
  • Ecosystem sustainability, agricultural biodiversity and diet

    1. 1. Ecosystem sustainability, agricultural biodiversity and dietquality: A system approach to assessing Sustainable DietsThomas Allen 28-29 May 2013Joint Conference on Sustainable Diet and Food Security, Organized bythe Belgium and French Nutrition Societies, Lille, France
    2. 2. 2 A nutrition-driven perspective A complex system of environment,agriculture and health Evidence and knowledge gaps An integrated system approach Concluding remarks.Structure of the presentation
    3. 3. Sustainable diets:A nutrition-drivenperspective
    4. 4. 4SustainabledietsSustainabledietsSustainablefood systemsSustainablefood systemsSustainableagricultureSustainableagricultureNutrition as part of DevelopmentWhen applied to agricultureand food systems, the threepillar-concept of Sustainabledevelopment (UN, 1987)should not miss its ultimatepurpose: Nutrition.Food consumption is not justabout food and nutrientintakes: Understanding whatshape dietary consumptionpatterns is essential.Source: Allen et al. (2013)
    5. 5. 5A nutrition-driven perspective Food security is also about food quality,not just supply or access Increasing recognition of the double oreven triple burden of malnutrition Increasing focus on dietary patterns,rather than single food or nutrient Increasing demand from consumers aboutthe health, environmental, economic andsocial impacts of their food choices.Research and policy agenda on agriculture and food system sustainabilityhas to introduce nutrition as one of its core dimensionsSource: Wellen and Hotamisligil (2005)
    6. 6. 6Sustainable diets are those diets with lowenvironmental impacts which contribute tofood and nutrition security and to healthy lifefor present and future generations.Source: FAO and Bioversity International. Sustainable diets and biodiversity. FAO 2012. Also the INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC SYMPOSIUM:BIODIVERSITY AND SUSTAINABLE DIETS UNITED AGAINST HUNGER, 3-5 NOVEMBER 2010, FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATIONOF THE UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS, ROMESustainable diets protect and respectbiodiversity and ecosystems while beingculturally acceptable, accessible, affordable,nutritionally adequate, safe, and healthy.Concept
    7. 7. A complex systemof environement,agriculture and health
    8. 8. 8From Biodiversity to Ecosystem ServicesUnderstanding processes: Human activities impact biodiversity inecosystems, and thus influence the provision of ecosystem servicesand vice versa Biodiversity as acommunity ofinteracting speciesproviding... Ecosystem services,“the benefitspeople obtain fromecosystems” (MA,2005)Source: CICES (2010)
    9. 9. 9Food as an ecosystem serviceSource: Scholes (2010)Food and nutrition security is theproduct of many variablesincluding material factors: Ecosystems provide food,through natural or managedlandscapes and other supporting,regulating and provisioningservices crucial to food systemfunctioning (water, etc.).When biodiversity is altered, thefunctions provided are likewisealtered.
    10. 10. 10From Ecosystem Services to NutritionAnalyzing interactions between the environment and human societyrequires an integrated system approach. A crucial question: defining thespatial scale and temporal scope in a more complex and global environment…
    11. 11. Evidence andknowledge gaps
    12. 12. 12Major facts:Erosion of biodiversity (CBD, 2010)Increased consumption of energy-rich but nutrient-poorfoods (Drewnowski and Spencer, 2004)Non-communicable diseases are growing causes of deathand disability (Lancet, 2013).Although current agricultural and food industry practiceshave had many positive effects, they have lead to reducedagricultural biodiversity and simplification of human diets.Agricultural biodiversity andintensification
    13. 13. 13 Agricultural intensification led to a production modelwhere only a few crop species dominate ournutritional intakes Around 100 crop species for about 90% of our foodsupply derived from plants (Heywood, 2013) Rice, wheat, and maize – the three main staple foods –represent half of the world’s food energy (IDRC/CRDI, 2013) Balanced diets depend not just on diversity of crops,but on the diversity within the crops.Simplification of human diets
    14. 14. 14Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS) vary in theirnutritional properties:Some are nutritionally rich (Johns and Sthapit, 2004) A local fruit, Berchemia discolor, was found to contribute in alow cost manner to closing nutrient gaps in Kenya (Termote etal., 2013)and adapted to low input, resilient agriculturepracticed by smallholder farmers.INFOODS initiative: improving the quality, availability,reliability and use of food composition data.Contribution of NUS to nutrition
    15. 15. 15A nutrient-based ecological toolNutritional functional diversity (NFD):Metric based on species and varieties composition on the farm andthe supply of nutritional components of these species and varietiesMeasures the potential of ecosystems to provide the nutritionaldiversity required for adequate and healthy dietsHelp identify key species contributing to nutrient availability inagroecosystems.From NFD to diet diversity?Spatial scale and temporal scope?Distribution and market dynamics?Cultural acceptability and consumer behaviours and utilization?
    16. 16. 16When species and varieties composition of ecologicalcommunities are altered, the functions provided by thesecommunities are likewise altered (DeClerck et al., 2011)Maintaining high biodiversity as:a source of traits for crop and livestock improvementa source of resilience and stability against biotic and abioticthreatsa source of increased income and improved livelihoods(Frison et al., 2007).Views on biodiversity
    17. 17. A integrated systemapproach to metrics
    18. 18. 18If data are sufficient, some environmental outcomes, such as GHGE, can bereliably treated as pseudo-food attributes and directly related to diets.However, given the ecological complexity and multidimensional nature thatbiodiversity information is required to encompass, it is very difficult to assignbiodiversity impacts to a product, and therefore to diets.Current approaches in Sustainable DietsIn a nutshell:Coupling Food Nutrient Composition, with similarly framed Food GHGEmission tablesBy analogy with energy and nutrient intakes, treating GHG emissions asfood attributesOn the basis of consumption data calculate diet-related GHGE
    19. 19. 19A system-orientated approach to…Diet outcomes: Food attributes or system outputs ?The concept of sustainability evolved from an approach to agriculture to asystem property (Hansen, 1996)Diets – and related outcomes – are the results of complex interactionsamong interdependent components within food systemsFood systems can best be conceptualized as Coupled Human-Environment Systems.A system approach enables the necessary consideration of the manyintricately related factors involved in getting food from farm to fork.Reconciling the indispensable nutrition perspective with a systemapproach requires multidisciplinary assessment methods
    20. 20. 20“Econutrition integrates environmental health and human health, witha particular focus on the interactions among the fields of agriculture,ecology, and human nutrition” (Deckelbaum et al., 2006)Circular processesSource: Deckelbaum et al. (2006)Households trapped in povertyare caught up in vicious circles;unproductive agriculturalpractices leading to worseningenvironmental degradation,further lowering yields andcontributing to malnutrition,along with increases in illness,affecting labour productivity….
    21. 21. 21Bio-Economic modelingA fully systemic approach:Linking agrobiodiversity and diet diversity at farm level: A farm-householdbio-economic model to assess the contribution of agrobiodiversity todietary quality and diversityMethods:Bio-economic model: Integrated system combining biophysical and socio-economic modelsFarm-household system simulation: Expanding existing model to includeagrobiodiversity and diet diversity at both endsFocus on small-holder farmersMultidisciplinarity: Agronomists, ecologists, economists, nutritionists,sociologistsApplication to high burden countries in Africa and elsewhere.
    22. 22. 22Nutritionassessment moduleHouseholdconsumptionmodelsFarmproductionmodelsBio-physicalmodelsBiodiversityassessmentmoduleBio-economic farm-household model foragrobiodiversity and nutrition
    23. 23. 23Nutritionassessment moduleHouseholdconsumptionmodelsFarmproductionmodelsBio-physicalmodelsBiodiversityassessmentmoduleMouysset et al. (2011; 2012)Louhichi et al. (2013)
    24. 24. 24ConclusionSustainable diets stresses that:Nutrition is a core dimension of understanding resilience andsustainability of agriculture and food systemsFor guiding change, characterization should be system-oriented,predictive and allow diagnosisSystem analysis and simulation models are tools that incorporate allthese elements…joint efforts are key.
    25. 25. Thank youSupported by the Daniel and Nina CarassoFoundation and CGIAR Research ProgramA4NHFor more info: Thomas Allen, t.allen@cgiar.orgNutrition and Marketing Diversity ProgrammeBioversity International