Food Security - Young Professionals look ahead to 2030.
HJ Fantaskis | 25.10.12
On Tuesday evening, our blogger headed to the Houses of Parliament for a discussion on Food Security, part of the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy's 2030 Series.
It was an interesting debate and, in this blogpost, we'll summarise the key points that came out in the panel members' discussion.
Food is at the very centre of cultural wellbeing. It directly connects us to the natural world and completely relies on eco-systems and -services.
The supermarkets have engineered a business structure around the availability of 'cheap' food. The current model, in which our food procurement and distribution is managed, is exceptionally vulnerable to price hikes and spikes. These increases in costs almost always immediately passed on to the customer.
We are not feeding the world sustainably. In Kenya, children in the larger, more urbanised cities are suffering from diabetes and obesity. This suggests we are spreading the calories around the world, but nutrition per capita is still largely uneven.
This broken and unsustainable system requires radical action from today's leaders. Steps need to be taken across the food supply chain, to reduce waste and increase 'eco-efficiency'. Women's empowerment and smallholder farms will be vital to feeding the world more sustainably.
Protecting biodiversity, and promoting various species of the plants we eat will help reduce vulnerability. For example, the banana is the most commonly eaten fruit around the world. However, because there is only one main variety of banana grown commercially, the global crop is exceptionally vulnerable to disease.
Business are very innovative, particularly when driven by direct consumer demand. Food businesses are realising (somewhat astonishingly) that their entire business depends on availability of food. They are being to understand that it is in their interests to protect and support biodiversity, local communities in which the food is grown, and reducing water waste, to create a more resilient food system.
Members of the panel included:
Laura Sandys MP, Vice Chair on the All Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development (APPG). (Laura has also been in headlines this week, after stepping down from the Commons Energy Committee, to be replaced by climate sceptic Peter Lilley.)
Mark Driscoll, Head of the One Planet Food Programme, WWF-UK
Dan Crossley, Lead on food systems at Forum for the Future
We spoke briefly to Dan Crossley from Forum to the Future after the event on the Western diet and consumption.
‘Our food system is broken, and diet is one of the areas that we need to rethink. We need to raise people’s awareness of how the food they eat is produced so they can make more sustainable choices. But it’s complex – a sustainable diet takes into consideration many issues from carbon, water, land use, animal welfare and biodiversity, for example. We need to find better ways of helping people make these active and informed choices – both in the West and in developing and emerging economies.’
Last Thursday, the Forum published an excellent article from Edward Hanrahan, founder and director of ClimateCare - Integrating climate and development goals makes business sense. We definitely recommend it, if you're interested in the issue of global food security.
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