Food security and nutrition and sustainable agriculture

Food security, nutrition, and sustainable agriculture constitute fundamental elements that contribute significantly to the attainment of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals are a globally shared blueprint that calls for peace and prosperity for all people and the planet. Focusing on food security and nutrition is directly linked to SDG 2 which seeks to "End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture." Beyond SDG 2, these themes also relate to other SDGs such as Goal 3 - Good Health and Well-being, Goal 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production, and Goal 13 - Climate Action. The relationship between sustainable agriculture and these goals is profound; by promoting eco-friendly farming methods, we reduce the environmental footprint, mitigate climate change, and ensure the long-term sustainability of food production systems.

Moreover, sustainable agriculture is vital in fostering biodiversity, improving soil health, and enhancing water use efficiency, which are critical aspects related to Goals 14 and 15 - Life below Water and Life on Land respectively. By safeguarding our ecosystems, we not only ensure food security but also the preservation of the natural environment for future generations. In turn, better nutrition is a conduit to improved health (SDG 3), and it can also influence educational outcomes (SDG 4), given the known links between nutrition and cognitive development.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that the interconnections go beyond these goals. There's an important nexus between sustainable agriculture, food security and issues of poverty (SDG 1), gender equality (SDG 5), clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), and economic growth (SDG 8), among others. Sustainable agriculture creates job opportunities, thus reducing poverty levels. By empowering women in agriculture, we can help achieve gender equality. Proper water and sanitation practices in agriculture can prevent contamination, ensuring clean water and sanitation for all. Therefore, the triad of food security, nutrition, and sustainable agriculture, while being a significant goal in itself, is also a vehicle that drives the achievement of the wider Sustainable Development Goals.

Elsevier,

Food Industry Wastes, Assessment and Recuperation of Commodities, 2013, Pages 17-36.

This chapter advances goal 12 by examining the development of green food production strategies; these take a holistic approach while applying principles of industrial ecology and maintaining the integrity of the biosphere.
This chapter explores goals 1 and 10 by examining whether the social sustainability enjoyed by sugar industry employees can be maintained given expanding beet production, falling world prices, promotion of healthy diets and the development of sugar alternatives.
Producing enough food of sufficient quality to feed an ever increasing population faces many challenges. This will require higher yields from agricultural production to meet the demands of changing population demographics using the limited natural resources available. Crop protection chemicals, developed by the agrochemical industry, are used by growers to ensure that consistently high yields are obtained, provide ease and reliability of harvest and to maintain excellent quality of produce from the crops they grow.
Elsevier, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Volume 34, October 2018
Actions on climate change (SDG 13), including in the food system, are crucial. SDG 13 needs to align with the Paris Agreement, given that UNFCCC negotiations set the framework for climate change actions. Food system actions can have synergies and trade-offs, as illustrated by the case for nitrogen fertiliser. SDG 13 actions that reduce emissions can have positive impacts on other SDGs (e.g. 3, 6, 12, 14, 15); but such actions should not undermine the adaptation goals of SDG 13 and SDGs 1, 2, 5 and 10.
Elsevier, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Volume 34, October 2018
This paper examines the potential and limitations of SDG 5 (Gender Equality) in helping to achieve household food security. The potential lies in the attention it pays to women's access to land and natural resources, which can significantly enhance women's ability to produce and procure food. Its limitations lie in a lack of attention to the production constraints that women farmers face; its failure to recognise forests and fisheries as key sources of food; and its lack of clarity on which natural resources women need access to and why.
Activities in the food-energy-water nexus require ecosystem services to maintain productivity and prevent ecological degradation. This work applies techno-ecological synergy concepts in an optimization formulation to design a system for co-producing food and energy under constraints on ecological sustainability. The system includes land use activities and biomass conversion processes for the production of energy carriers, as well as supporting ecosystems that increase the supply of key ecosystem services.
This study proposes that the choice of strategy should depend on the nature of the hazard, the existing national food control system, and the availability of the relevant international standard.
As an extension of a previous work (Chen and Han, 2015a), this study explored the arable land use of the world economy from source of exploitation to sink of final consumption via the global supply chain, by means of embodiment accounting that includes the indirect feedbacks associated with both intermediate and primary inputs. In magnitude, the global transfer of arable land use is estimated to be around 40% of the total direct exploitation. The connections as well as imbalances of major economies in intermediate and final trades of arable land use are discussed.
A John Deere tractor pulling a direct drill through a field of stubble
Direct drilling - where the ground is not ploughed before a new crop is established - helps conserve soil moisture and structure and prevents wind erosion. Switching to direct drilling, or "no-till", can therefore bring big savings in labour and machinery costs. However does this translate to better gross margins? A benchmarking study, which compared no-till with more conventional approach, suggest there are savings to be made despite dips in yield. This supports SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production.
Food waste is a matter intrinsically linked with the growing challenges of food security, resource and environmental sustainability, and climate change. In developed economies, the largest food waste stream occurs in the consumption stage at the end of the food chain. Current approaches for dealing with the wasted food have serious limitations. Historically, livestock animals had functioned as bio-processors, turning human-inedible or -undesirable food materials into meat, eggs, and milk.

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