Sustainability, climate change and food also at the center of Davos debates

Sustainability, climate change and food also at the center of Davos debates

February 16, 2018

Sustainability, climate change and food also at the center of Davos debates

A meeting that brings together experts and world leaders every year, going beyond the realm of economics to look at the great global challenges of environmental and food sustainability

Those who think that the World Economic Forum, (WEF) is only about economics and finance, need to think again. During its meetings held every year in Davos, Switzerland, the issues of environmental sustainability, climate change, food security and sustainable agriculture are increasingly featured. BCFN took part in the 2018 world forum, contributing with its work on sustainability and the development of tools to re-design the agri-food systems. Its event, “Aligning initiatives to track progress towards a new global food system”, took place in the morning of 24 January.

Ideas and lessons on sustainability from the forum

An independent and impartial foundation, not linked to any specific interest. This is the WEF, a non-profit foundation set up in 1971 and currently headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The Davos meeting is just one of the projects of this foundation, which has had observer status at the United Nations' Economic and Social Council since 2012, and is committed to "improving the state of the world". This target cannot be reached just looking at economic issues, since it is closely linked to the themes of sustainability, food and the environment. The environment was a hot topic at the last edition of the forum: the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that climate change today is the greatest global challenge for civilizations, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that he wants France to be an inspiration on this challenge, by setting the ambitious target of eliminating all coal plants by 2021. 


The last edition of the Global Risk Report written by the WEF states that four out of five key risks for humanity are linked to climate change

Food and climate are linked

Talking of climate change, inevitably, means talking about sustainable food, social and environmental sustainability, desertification, migration and many other themes included in the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The link connecting all these objectives is food. The negative effects of an unsustainable food system go well beyond hunger, and they take the shape of migration flows, border tensions between states, and of paradoxes like co-existing obesity and malnutrition, and food waste. The WEF experts are well aware of this, as one of their projects is entirely devoted to food security and agriculture: Shaping the Future of Food Security and Agriculture. The final objective is the creation of a sustainable food system, that is efficient and able to feed everyone through market actions and wide-ranging collaborations, guided by innovation and revolutionary ideas, in line with the sustainable development goals. 


Ad hoc instruments and shared commitments

International, multi-disciplinary collaboration is a fundamental requirement for the success of projects that aim to re-model current agri-food systems, but it is not enough. We also need ad hoc instruments to keep monitoring the performance of the various countries on the key sustainability issues discussed at Davos during the “Aligning initiatives to track progress towards a new global food system” co-organized by BCFN, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), London's City University, Rabobank and the EAT Foundation. "We have two macro-challenges before us: respecting the Paris Agreement and achieving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals" said Marta Antonelli, BCFN's Research Manager, who also added: "The food we put on our plates and our food models are at the core of the challenges we face". This was the background to the presentation made at Davos for the Food Sustainability Index developed by BCFN in collaboration with The Economist's Intelligence Unit (EIU), now in its second year. "This index could be the scientific base for, and the inspiration behind, a new global index" claim the organizers.  

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