Management of poverty and inequalities; geopolitical instability; scarcity; degradation of resources; and climate change will determine future food security
The world will witness persistent food insecurity, degrading resources and unsustainable economic growth in the future if agrifood systems remain the same, according to a new report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations December 2, 2022.
The report, titled The Future of Food and Agriculture — Drivers and triggers for transformation, analysed current and emerging drivers of agrifood systems and their possible future trends.
The document said the world was “tremendously off track” to meet the sustainable development goals (SDG), including agrifood targets.
This threatened the world’s ability to nourish its burgeoning population. The report urged decision makers to think beyond short-term needs. A lack of vision, piecemeal approaches and quick fixes will come at a high cost for everyone, it said.
“Many of the SDGs are not on track and will only be achieved if agrifood systems are transformed properly to withstand ongoing global adversity that undermines food security and nutrition due to growing structural inequalities and also regional inequalities,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said at the launch event.
The report hypothesised four future scenarios for agrifood systems that would bring diverse outcomes in terms of food security, nutrition and overall sustainability:
It also identified 18 interconnected socio-economic and environmental forces, called ‘drivers’. It analysed how these interacted and shaped the various activities occurring within agrifood systems, including farming, food processing and food consumption.
The key drivers included poverty and inequalities; geopolitical instability; scarcity; the degradation of resources and climate change. Their management will determine what the future of food looks like.
The document underscored the urgent need to change course so that a more sustainable and resilient future for agrifood systems is created. It proposed four key ‘triggers of transformation’:
“To ensure access to sufficient and nutritious food, decent jobs, income opportunities, and environmental services, among others, requires us to be smarter in identifying the triggers needed to accelerate transformative processes,” Dongyu said.
A comprehensive transformation, however, will come at a cost and will require trade-off of contrasting objectives that governments, policy makers and consumers will have to address and balance, while tackling resistance to the paradigm shift.
“Choices will have to be made to trade off contrasting objectives, such as increasing immediate consumption and well-being versus investing to ensure a better future for current and next generations, or deciding how to charge the costs of unsustainable development to wealthier societies to the advantage of poorer ones,” the FAO Director-General said in the report’s foreword.
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