Food security and climate change: seven evidence-based actions to achieve a sustainable food system

The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change has produced a summary for policy makers of a report called ‘Achieving food security in the face of climate change’. This summary will shortly be completed by a detailed report of findings and recommendations.

The summary includes seven key recommendations to policy makers that, if actioned, the authors believe would bring us closer to a global sustainable food system in the face of climate change.

The key message from the summary is that the global food system faces pressure. This is due to a range of factors, including the shift in diets towards higher consumption of calories, fats and animal products and the growing, increasingly urban, population.

Further pressure is added to the food system through inefficiency – an estimated 12 million hectares of agricultural land are lost to land degradation each year, and around a third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted across the global food system.

Moreover, although sustainable agriculture can be a powerful mitigating factor in tackling the effects of climate change, many current farming practices – including land clearing and inefficient use of fertilizers and organic residues – mean that agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gasses (accounting for up to 30 percent of global emissions).

This is problematic as the authors argue that ever-higher temperatures are exacerbating the above issues, and that global climate change will have an adverse effect on agricultural production, bringing us toward critical thresholds in many regions.

The authors argue that:

“Business as usual in our globally interconnected food system will not bring us food security and environmental stability.”

In order to make the vital transition to a global sustainable food system, CCAFS have proposed seven evidence-based actions to achieve food security in the face of climate change. These are:

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

Farming First has written a policy paper on climate change, and has a range of resources on the role of agriculture in creating a global green economy.

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