A Summary of Sustainable Food Systems Month
Thank you for joining us during this month’s Agrilinks series on sustainable food systems. This topic area has become increasingly important and recently sparked increased media coverage and global debates, particularly after the release of some alarming reports in 2019, including the IPCC report on land and the IPBES report on biodiversity and ecosystem services. It therefore seemed appropriate timing to address this topic and begin the new year by looking at the emerging evidence, learning from experiences in the field, and framing a discussion around how we may best respond through improved programming.
The Feed the Future initiative aims to help solve the challenge of ending global hunger through creating sustainable and long-term change in our approach to food production. Through this initiative, we aim to help build partnerships and innovation, increase resilience, improve nutrition and improve access to information and technologies. One of the key objectives under the Global Food Security Strategy which guides our current programming is to increase sustainable agricultural productivity. This includes improved efficiencies and sustainability throughout the entire food system and designing interventions that build resilience and assess environmental conditions and impacts.
We are all aware of the continued and increasing pressure placed on our natural resources due to increases in population and the ever-growing demands for food. Along with this, changing dietary and consumption patterns leading to increased land use changes are placing increased pressure on natural assets. In addition, economic progress, notably in the emerging market economies, translates into increased demand for food and diversified diets.
It is projected that food production will increase by 70 percent globally and by 100 percent in the developing countries. Yet land, water resources and biodiversity, the basis of our food production, are finite and already under heavy stress, and future agricultural production will need to be more productive and more sustainable at the same time.
Climate change brings added challenges to achieving global food security and the long-term sustainability of food production systems. Small-holder farmers, pastoralists and fishing communities in the least developed countries are among those most vulnerable.
Responding to these challenges requires a transformation of existing agriculture practices that reduce pressures on natural ecosystems and the services they provide while still meeting our food demands. Prompt action on climate mitigation and adaptation aligned with sustainable land management and sustainable development could reduce the risk for millions of people from climate extremes, desertification, land degradation, and food and livelihood insecurity.
In the last month, we have received over 20 blog contributions to our Agrilinks series from experts around the world working to address this challenge. We explored how to achieve sustainable water resource use and irrigation efficiency through improved groundwater management and the implementation of new technologies. We took a deep dive in Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia, Senegal, Nepal, and Malawi. We examined the important role gender plays in the sustainability of food systems and soil health. We also addressed building healthy rangelands, biodiversity loss, land rights, agroecology, and food waste. Our final blog highlighted some of the work USAID is doing to work across disciplines and sectors to build healthy and resilient agriculture ecosystems.
In addition to our blogs, we had a hugely successful webinar with nearly 200 participants watching presentations on why food systems must be transformed, food waste must be reduced, and new technologies must be adopted over the next few decades to ensure food security and healthy nutrition for all people. Amidst these goals, presenters also stressed the importance of ensuring sustainable livelihoods, conserving wild and agricultural biodiversity and healthy watersheds, and adapting to and mitigating climate change.
I would like to thank all of our contributors to this month’s Agrilinks series — our writers, speakers and behind the scenes crew. This was a huge success and we look forward to building this discussion through more knowledge interchange and greater collaboration over the upcoming year. Stay tuned for more engagement and keep up the amazing work that you are doing!