Resilience in food production and consumption 

The Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development – CEBDS launched a publication about the Resilient Food Workshop, held in June. The meeting brought together actors from different links in the country's food chain.

The workshop is part of the Agroclimatic Intelligence (IAC), which aims to increase food availability by 50%. At the same time, it seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50%.

 

Sistemas Resilientes de Alimentos no Brasil

 

Innovation focused on resilience

The search for resilience through innovation is the main way to guarantee food availability in a scenario that predicts population growth of 26% by 2050. The conclusion is from the leader of Bayer's Crop Science division, Gerhard Bohne, who pointed out the integration between the links in the food chain as the main challenge to ensuring sufficient supplies to feed the world population.

Bohne reinforces that the sector has been working, in recent years, to develop technologies that guarantee greater productivity in line with more sustainable production.

“Innovation is paramount for the food system. We increasingly have to develop personalized solutions to ensure that we will be able to feed almost 10 billion people in 2050. To achieve this, we need to harmonize production, distribution and consumption”, reinforces Bohne, who participated in the Workshop. 

The agribusiness chain is today the largest emitter of GHGs and at the same time it is the activity most susceptible to climate change. CEBDS Director of Technical Development, Ana Carolina Szklo, warns that climate change is an unprecedented challenge, especially for a sector so linked to climate.

“Today, 40% of the land used in the world is used for agribusiness. This is equivalent to 30% of global emissions and 70% of water consumption. We urgently need to make the chain more resilient. Our future depends on the ability to create food systems to guarantee the nutrition of the population”, he states.

Climate change not only affects production capacity, but, according to the Director of Communication and Government Relations at DSM Latam, Zenaide Guerra, it is causing nutritional damage to food. For Zenaide, waste needs to be tackled urgently.

“Of food production intended for human consumption, around 30% is wasted. This accounts for 8% of greenhouse gases and 20% of water used in agriculture. Waste is real and causes serious harm to human beings. We have to be able to understand the local cultures of each country and fortify the basic foods of these diets”, he believes.

 

Technology combined with the food chain

Understanding the impact of the chain is one of the ways to make it more resilient. “The climate change process is going through a huge discussion about access to information. Armed with data, consumers will be able to make more sustainable choices”, says Juliana Lopes, director of sustainability at Amaggi.

Another path is the application of disruptive technologies, such as Integration of crops, livestock and forestry (ILPF). The modality, which provides for integrated production, increases production per hectare while reducing emissions. The application of the technique faces some barriers: technical assistance and access to credit.

Renato Rodrigues, president of the ILPF network, highlights that, in Brazil, the areas using ILPF techniques jumped from two million hectares in 2005 to 15 million in 2018. The expectation is that, by 2030, 35 million of hectares are applying the technology.

“ILPF is a complete technology. Through it we were able to achieve the goals of the low carbon agriculture plan (ABC) ahead of schedule. It is a set of techniques that allows to increase production, guaranteeing the sustainability of agribusiness”.

 

UN calls for changes in production

With the world's population expected to reach almost 10 billion by 2050, a new UN report finds that the global food system must undergo urgent changes to ensure there is adequate food for everyone, without destroying the planet.

O “World Resources Report: Creating a Sustainable Food Future” reveals that meeting this challenge will require closing three gaps: a “food gap” of 56% between what was produced in 2010 and the food that will be needed in 2050; a “land gap” of nearly 600 million hectares between global agricultural land in 2010 and expected agricultural expansion by 2050; and an 11 gigaton “greenhouse gas mitigation gap” between expected emissions from agriculture in 2050 and the level needed to meet the Paris Climate Agreement.

The document was produced by World Resources Institute in partnership with world Bank, UN Environment, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and French agricultural research agencies CIRAD and INRA. The report presents solutions to reshape the way the world produces and consumes food to ensure sustainability for the food system by 2050.

The report calls for significant adjustments in food production, as well as changes in population consumption. The actions range from the management of wild fishing to the amount of meat to be consumed. Provides policymakers, businesses, and researchers with a comprehensive roadmap on how to create a sustainable food system from farm to fork.

“Millions of farmers, businesses, consumers and every government on the planet will have to make changes to face the global food challenge. At every level, the food system must be linked to climate strategies, as well as ecosystem protections and economic prosperity,” said Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the World Resources Institute. “While the scale of the challenge is greater than imagined, the solutions we have identified have greater potential than many realize. There is reason to be hopeful that we can achieve a sustainable future in food.”

“The opportunity to transform the food system should not be ignored. Rewarding farmers for producing more diverse and nutritious food in a much more sustainable way will help increase their income and create jobs, build healthier societies, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the recovery of essential ecosystem services,” said Laura Tuck, Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank.

“Technology will be one of the keys to the future success of the food system. There is no realistic potential to create a sustainable food future without major innovations,” said Tim Searchinger, senior researcher at WRI and lead author of the report. “We need more funding for research and development and flexible regulation to encourage the private sector to innovate.”

“The call to action in this report can be summarized in three words: produce, protect and prosper. These are not competing interests,” said Achim Steiner, UNDP administrator. “It is possible to produce more food with the same amount of agricultural land today, protect ecosystems, and do so in a way that ensures farmers and others can prosper. Creating a sustainable food future will not be easy, but it can be done.”

The new report contains the full findings underpinning the synthesis of creating a sustainable food future, which was launched in December 2018 at COP24 in Poland. Check out the full report here.

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