What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary of the news stories, reports, and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Urbanisation, value chains, food systems

Growing Food for Growing Cities: Transforming Food Systems in an Urbanizing World, Chicago Council

Are cities doing enough on climate change? Residents say no, Green Biz

Shifting our Approach: Four Priorities for a More Sustainable Food System, The Chicago Council

Done sensibly, agricultural development can reduce poverty in Africa, The Conversation

Small-scale producers in the development of tea value-chain partnerships, ifad

Shifting our Approach: Four Priorities for a More Sustainable Food System, Chicago Council

Climate change

Promising climate for investment, Thomson Reuters Foundation

How should we compensate poor countries for ‘loss and damage’ from climate change? The Conversation

Why the Paris climate change goals may already be slipping beyond reach, The Guardian [Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary of the news stories, reports, and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Feeding the cities

Growing Food for Growing Cities: Achieving Inclusive Growth, Chicago council

Future of food : shaping the global food system to deliver improved nutrition and health, World Bank

Why urban agriculture isn’t a panacea for Africa’s food crisis, The Conversation

Guest Commentary – How Access to Long-Established Technology Can Help Feed Growing Cities, Chicago Council

Growth opportunities and growing pains in a changing global food system, AgriPulse

Growing Food for Growing Cities: Engaging the Private Sector, Chicago Council

Climate change 

A new start for European foreign policy, E3G

Could global warming’s top culprit help crops? Eurekalert [Read more…]

Climate change, food production and food security

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Photo by 9comeback

Last week we introduced a study looking at how climate change will potentially affect crop growing in sub-Saharan Africa and how extreme the changes to farming methods will need to be in order to adapt. Now several recent articles researchers explain how food and nutrition insecurity is likely to worsen in the face of climate change and how we can prevent our food production systems from undermining efforts to mitigate the long-term climate effects.

A recent study in The Lancet, building on previous research, indicates that global food supply as impacted by climate change could cause over half a million deaths by 2050, largely due to a rise in undernutrition. While it is understood, at least to some degree, that crop yields will be affected, largely adversely, by climate change, the findings that it will also affect the composition of many people’s diets is relatively novel. The study also predicts the impacts of climate on diets will surpass undernutrition as a major cause of death.

The availability of healthy foods is expected to decline under climate change with consumption of fruits and vegetables predicted to decrease by some 4% by 2050, in comparison with a scenario free of global warming. And while this decline is likely to be most severe in low and medium-income countries in the Western Pacific region, the impacts will be felt everywhere including high-income countries.

And we are already seeing the effects of climate change in Southeast Asia and Africa where droughts have increased undernutrition in children, food prices have dramatically increased and crop production declined. Obviously since the poorest households spend the highest proportion of their income on food, low food availability and increased food prices will have a substantially greater impact on them. While meeting commitments made in the Paris Agreement will go some way to minimising the effects of climate change on diets and nutrition, governments will also need policies in place to address shortfalls in both production and in consumption. [Read more…]

Earth Hour 2016

Earth-Hour-2016“As the world stands at a climate crossroads, it is powerful yet humbling to think that our actions today will decide what tomorrow will look like for generations to come.” Saturday 19th March at 08:30 pm local time is Earth Hour, a worldwide grassroots movement organised by WWF, which originally began as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then this annual global celebration where people switch off their lights for one hour has become a symbolic display of how much we care for and want to protect the planet. Last year a record number of people from across 172 countries celebrated Earth Hour.

A recent article from WWF outlining climate events of 2015, makes it clear that Earth Hour this year is crucial to continued progress on climate change. Firstly changes in our climate continue to be worrying: 2015 became the official hottest year on record, winter sea ice in the Arctic reached a record low and the haze crisis brought about by illegal slash-and-burn methods to clear land for palm oil and paper production hit Southeast Asia. But there is also significant progress being made in policy that needs to be celebrated but also built upon: the “Well-being of Future Generations” bill passed by Wales, the 114 companies who committed to reduce emissions on the sidelines of COP21, the 1000 mayors who committed to 100% renewable energy and of course the Paris Climate Agreement. [Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Technology and innovation

Guest Commentary: Technology Can Feed the World, The Chicago Council

What mobile tech innovation offers food security, Devex

Africa gets new centre for agricultural innovation, SciDevNet

Mapping for food safety, iied

How the Fourth Industrial Revolution Can Radically Improve Our Food Supply Chain, HuffPost

The digital revolution in agriculture: Progress and constraints, IFPRI

Policy Brief: Small-scale farmer innovation, QUNO

How digital is solving 3 problems in agriculture, Zero Hunger Challenge

Nutrition, Food Security, and Waste 

Stink bug could boost health and nutrition in Africa, SciDevNet [Read more…]

What urbanisation means for rural areas in Africa

By Katrin Glatzel

Alvise Forcellini 2006 urbanisation blog

Credit: Alvise Forcellini, 2006

“How to feed our cities? Agriculture and rural areas in an era of urbanisation” – that was the theme of the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, or for short, the GFFA, hosted in Berlin in mid-January. With Habitat III taking place in October in Quito, Ecuador, urbanisation features on top of the agenda of many meetings and conferences in 2016 including the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ annual flagship report and the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). These forums are important as they draw attention to what urbanisation will mean for rural areas, the agriculture sector and those millions of smallholder farmers, upon which urban areas rely for their food supply. This is particularly important in a developing country context.

Urban and rural transformation

According to UN figures, in 1950 only about a third of the world’s population lived in cities, but rapid population growth has led to increased urbanisation, which has seen this figure rise to 54% in 2014. As this trend is set to continue, by 2050 over two-thirds of the global population will live in urban and peri-urban areas. Take for example Nigeria. Under current trends, by 2050, at 397 million, Nigeria’s population would be larger than Central Africa’s population in its entirety. Lagos’ population of 17.9 million is set to double by mid-century. This has a significant impact for the development of rural areas and our food systems. In order to support growing urban areas, to improve rural livelihoods, reduce poverty and to lower Africa’s food import bills, local agricultural sectors in the rural and peri-urban areas will need to adapt to an increased demand for food and changing diets. Pressure on natural resources, such as water, and climate change make the sustainable production of nutritious and affordable food ever more challenging. [Read more…]

The World Economic Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals

r2Hb2gvXThe Sustainable Development Goals, described as a social contract to transform the world by 2030, were the focus of a panel event at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, which aimed to introduce the advocacy work being done around the SDGs as well as discuss what needs to be done to ensure the SDG agenda motivates action.

Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon’s opening remarks introduced the goals as an ambitious blueprint to put the world on a more sustainable path, and as both a vision and a promise by world leaders. In order to deliver on the SDGs, and as quickly as possible, he affirmed that we need partnership and advocacy, introducing the SDG Advocacy Group (see below for a list of all members). Co-chair of the group, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana, was next to speak, further explaining the SDGs as a social contract to fix what is broken and to ensure all people have access to clean drinking water, sanitation, food, shelter, healthcare and education. In order for the world to see progress and peace we need to address the fact that many people do not have access to these goods and services as basic human rights, and we need to fix this fast. As global crises such as child hunger and malnutrition, the creation of refugees through conflict and the rise of terrorism show we do not have the luxury of time. President Mahama made clear that the SDGs cannot be a placebo that peddles false hope, we need to keep meeting, keep generating ideas and maintain momentum. “Our ability to effect change islimited only by our imagination.”

The second co-chair, Mrs. Erna Solberg, the Prime Minister of Norway, then spoke about the role of the SDGs as a call to action and a roadmap to the future we want. We cannot continue as normal without expecting social, economic and environmental bankruptcy. She also laid out the lessons we need to learn from the Millennium Development Goals:

  • Progress is faster with effective partnerships (and sustainable investment models can scale up financing);
  • The 17 goals are a coherent plan, not a menu and we need to get away from a silo mentality and start seeing the synergies between the goals.
  • Establishing the goals is not enough, we need governments to show political will and resolve in dealing with difficult issues such as eradicating tax havens, halting illicit financial flows and combating corruption. We also need to monitor data to measure how effective new policies are at achieving the SDGs.
  • Finally, it has proved difficult to make progress in areas of crisis and conflict so the international community must work together to improve situations in these locations immediately.

[Read more…]