Solutions from the Land (SfL) is calling on the UN High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) to add an eighth high priority issue in their forthcoming list of key issues used to guide the UN Committee on World Food Security activities.
At the Committee’s request, the HLPE has identified seven emerging issues and priority future actions for the 2024-2027 plan of work. Last month the HLPE released the list and draft note with an invitation to SfL and others to review and comment. In response, SfL submitted an eighth critical, emerging and enduring issue that affects local and global food security and nutrition–the role of agriculture in concurrently delivering ecosystem services and food and nutrition. This high priority issue calls attention to the dependency of global food and nutrition security on abundant and high-quality water and soil resources and a wide variety of other ecosystem services.
In Rome last week, SfL President Ernie Shea, discussed the SfL submission with FAO officials and urged them to acknowledge that “increases in production must be accomplished with fewer resources and under conditions of declining biodiversity and increasing risks to ecosystem health. This means we must better understand coupled human-natural system relationships and find ways to concurrently be productive and effectively protect and renew our natural resources” as we adapt to unexpected events like COVID disruptions to supply chains, limits to resources and changing market and climate conditions.
Shea further noted the growing support for circular agriculture systems and practices that increase production while focusing on reducing external inputs, closing nutrient loops regenerating soils and minimizing agriculture’s impact on the environment. Policy makers, scientists, practitioners and food and nutrition security advocates involved in global food security talks must consider a wider role for agriculture, one that concurrently delivers ecosystem services as well as food and nutrition security.
HLPE seven key issues that have already been identified as critical and emerging issues related to food security and nutrition are:
- Building resilient supply chains
- Urban and peri-urban food systems
- Conflicts and the fragility of food systems
- Revitalizing climate policies
- Recognizing the role and rights of food system workers
- Building a meaningful interface for diverse knowledges and practices
- Emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases that are challenging food security and nutrition
Global negotiators are clearly aware of the critical need to address a problem that has only grown in the past two years. Around the world, more than enough food is produced to feed the global population. Yet, the UN says as many as 811 million people still go hungry. Advocates for those in need say that after steadily declining for a decade, world hunger is on the rise, affecting 9.9 percent of people around the world. From 2019 to 2020, the number of undernourished people grew by as many as 161 million, a number that crisis experts say is driven largely by conflict, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UN effort in dealing with the crisis is aimed at one of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. SfL is calling for the mobilization of innovation across all elements and participants in the food and agriculture system. Such an effort can unlock solutions that meet the whole set of production, environmental and social well-being outcomes, rather than relying on predetermined technologies, production types or design components.
SfL is urging global leaders to adopt a bold vision that is possible only through an ambitious framework that brings humankind together to build a better world. That means systematic international cooperation and strategic design to bring human systems into alignment and harmony with natural systems. A group of SfL farmer leaders will be back in Rome later this month for FAO Council Meetings where they will continue to advance a new vision for how sustainably managed farms, ranches and woodlands can deliver near-term and scalable ecosystem service solutions to the ‘mega challenges’ of our times. SfL invites aligned partners to join us in advocating for this new way forward.