Less talk and more action: BCFN strategies for sustainable agriculture

Less talk and more action: BCFN strategies for sustainable agriculture

October 05, 2018

Less talk and more action: BCFN strategies for sustainable agriculture

A practical roadmap to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and launch a new model for. These are the take-aways from the international forum in New York.

The current agriculture system is no longer sustainable for human health, nor for the environment: Climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, unchecked exploitation of resources, and its impact on food production and human nutrition, are pressing current problems for which effective solutions are hard to find. This is the background of the policy document jointly presented by the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) at the International Forum on Food and Nutrition in New York. “The objective is to set a practical roadmap that will enable us to meet the 2030 deadline and achieve the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals” explained the document's authors, who will present their action plan at the 2019 Summit on the sustainable development goals and at the  United Nations' Summit on Climate taking place in the same year

We need societal momentum

Sustainable agriculture and healthy and sustainable food are issues that need the support of everyone, not just the few. Researchers, politicians and heads of state clearly have a role to play to spur change towards a better system that can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, but this kind of transformation requires a common effort, engaging society at all levels. Politicians should guarantee a long term commitment, using social, cultural and environmental approaches that aim to comply with the commitment taken with the Paris Agreements in 2015. On the other hand, farmers should adopt technologies and production systems geared towards sustainable development, researchers should look to develop tools to support sustainable agriculture and personal wellness, while individual citizen should improve their awareness on the impact their actions and food choices have on the environment, choosing a sustainable diet. Last but not least, educators should communicate to young people the critical relationship linking food, health and the environment, while communication professionals should shed greater light on the food paradoxes facing today's world. 

Four steps to change

In 'Sustainable Agriculture Systems And Food Patterns: Enabling Transformation - Policy Recommendations Paving The Way To The Sustainable Development Goals', experts from BCFN and SDSN identified four priorities.


1. Promoting knowledge and action on sustainable diets to eradicate the causes of the current global nutritional crisis.

This involves solving two problems that appear to be at the opposite end of the spectrum: malnutrition and obesity. Malnutrition is linked to the lack of micro-nutrients found in many countries, not just those where people are hungry. Obesity is widespread and requires action to contain it, though measures that explain to people the risks of a bad diet and the practical ways to improve their daily diet. It is also important to educate children from an early age to a healthy and sustainable diet, promoting sustainable diets that are mainly based on plants, and reducing sugary drinks, animal proteins and processed foods, while pressuring the industry into marketing healthier and more nutritious foods.  

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2. Developing innovative agriculture, with land-use models that can be sustainable also for industry, cities and communities. Environmental and agriculture crises are closely related, and bad land-use is one of the most difficult problems to solve. Agriculture influences climate, water use, habitat loss, pollution and consequently the entire food chain, which is increasingly sensitive to those environmental changes. Hence, developing sustainable agriculture and new land-use policies becomes imperative; implementing new sustainable agriculture projects that facilitate resilience, promoting research on new ways to process and preserve food while avoiding food waste; safeguarding the rights of small farmers and currently vulnerable groups, such as women and young people. 

3. Promoting research and data collection in order to monitor progress over time. Without accurate and clear indicators, we cannot keep checks on the progress made and re-tune policies if needed. We need to identify the best strategies to monitor and report collected data and ensure we use systematic shared tools to monitor on a global scale.   

4. Promoting science-based education for today's young, who will be the food leaders of tomorrow. The future generations will need to solve the greatest challenges in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and therefore young people need the power to build and strengthen their capacity through innovative projects and science-based training; they need to be part of the new solutions for change, also through digital platforms and social media. 


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