How can the challenges facing global food and nutrition security be addressed? How can policy-makers in the EU and beyond ease the increasing pressure on the world food system? These are the core questions that the “FOODSECURE” research consortium with partners from 13 countries has been tackling since it was set up in 2012. To ensure feasibility the researchers have cooperated with relevant stakeholders and consulted with EU policy-makers. The results were presented at the final conference in Brussels in October, 2016.
795 million people in the world go hungry. Many more do not have enough good food to lead a healthy active life. Food security is one of the most pressing issues in the world. With the number of people on the planet growing, agriculture has to produce more food with fewer resources:
FOODSECURE was created to understand the global food system and to find solutions. With funding of 8 million Euro, it is the most ambitious research project on global food and nutrition security funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme.
Exploring the future: Pathways towards sustainable nutrition security
Building on solid evidence regarding food and nutrition security and its determinants, the research has developed scenarios and modelling tools that allow a better look into the future. It will now be possible to devise consistent and coherent strategies to fight hunger and assist European policy makers.
According to the calculations total food production increases globally between 45% and 68% in 2050 compared to 2010. Yet a continuation of business as usual would lead to greater inequality and unequal food access. A scenario illustrates that environmental sustainability and Food nutrition security are not necessarily conflicting, but specific policies are needed to translate welfare gains into strengthening basic services and removing basic bottlenecks to food security.
EU policies – Solution or part of the problem?
The project team undertook a comprehensive analysis of the role of policies in food and nutrition security. Policy measures can have a significant influence on food security. There is ample food on the planet to feed everyone, but it is distributed unequally. Measures can be taken to help people to access food, and the project finds ample evidence of successful policies, for example in the field of social transfers and innovation policy. But matters can be complicated: “Sometimes policies may seem smart for one purpose, such as storage, but have a negative impact on food and nutrition security. So policies should also be seen as part of the problem,” says Hans van Meijl, overall coordinator of the project and research manager at the Wageningen Economic Research Institute. Well-designed European policies also matter.
The EU and its Member States spend over USD 6 billion per annum on development cooperation aimed at ensuring food security. The research team strongly recommends collecting better evidence on the impact of these investments, as this is largely missing at present. The underlying causes of food insecurity and malnutrition – lack of health services, education, innovation, stability and safety – demand continued attention.
In a historic move, EU ministers approved the ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change last week. FOODSECURE research shows that impact on food security might be severe without accompanying policies. An Intergovernmental Panel on Food and Nutrition Security is needed to ensure sustainable, affordable and healthy food for all.