Global scientists serve up food security policy recommendations

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food security, Agriculture

Global scientists serve up food security policy recommendations
Global food systems need an immediate transformation to meet current and future threats to food security and environmental sustainability, according to a new report.

Published by an independent global commission of eminent scientists, the report recommends crucial policy responses to the global challenge of feeding the world in the face of climate change, population growth, poverty, food price spikes and degraded ecosystems.

The report submits actions which the commission suggests should be implemented simultaneously by a collection of governments, international institutions, investors, agricultural producers, consumers, food manufacturers and researchers. Such recommendations range from shifting economic incentives and making 'fast start' funds available for agriculture to strengthening land rights and building transparency in food markets.

"This report provides an urgent call to action,"​ said U.S. commissioner Molly Jahn of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

"Global demand is growing for food, fodder and bioenergy crops, food prices are rising to historic levels, and extreme weather events around the world further erode food security. The good news is that there are concrete steps, supported by the best available scientific research, that we can take now," ​added Jahn.

Commissioning change

The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change is made up by a panel of 13 senior natural and social scientists from around the world. It was created earlier this year to develop research-based policy recommendations and actions toward establishing stable, secure and sustainable global food systems in the context of a changing climate.

“It's about reorienting the whole global food system – not just agricultural production, and not just in developing countries,”​ explained Sir John Beddington, chief scientific adviser to the UK government, and chair of the commission.

“We need a socially equitable, global approach to produce the funding, policy, management and regional initiatives that will deliver nutrition, income and climate benefits for all,"​ he said.

Recommendations

The report – referred to as a ‘summary for policy makers’ – includes seven main recommendations addressing policy, investment, sustainable intensification, safety nets, consumption patterns, food waste and knowledge systems. Specifically:

  • Integrate food security and sustainable agriculture into global and national policies;
  • Significantly raise the level of global investment in sustainable agriculture and food systems in the next decade;
  • Sustainably intensify agricultural production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other negative environmental impacts of agriculture;
  • Target populations and sectors that are most vulnerable to climate change and food insecurity;
  • Reshape food access and consumption patterns to ensure basic nutritional needs are met and to foster healthy and sustainable eating habits worldwide;
  • Reduce loss and waste in food systems, particularly from infrastructure, farming practices, processing, distribution and household habits, and;
  • Create comprehensive, shared, integrated information systems that encompass human and ecological dimensions.

The commission will present its recommendations at Agriculture and Rural Development Day in Durban, South Africa on December 3rd, with a final report due early in 2012.

The full report containing further details of the outlined recommendations can be downloaded by clicking here​.

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