A vision for attaining food security
Food is fundamental to human wellbeing and development. Increased food production remains a cornerstone strategy in the effort to alleviate global food insecurity. But despite the fact that global food production over the past half century has kept ahead of demand, today around one billion people do not have enough to eat, and a further billion lack adequate nutrition. Food insecurity is facing mounting supply-side and demand-side pressures; key among these are climate change, urbanisation, globalisation, population increases, disease, as well as a number of other factors that are changing patterns of food consumption. Many of the challenges to equitable food access are concentrated in developing countries where environmental pressures – including climate change, population growth and other socio-economic issues – are concentrated. Together these factors impede people’s access to sufficient, nutritious food; chiefly through affecting livelihoods, income and food prices. Food security and human development go hand in hand, and their outcomes are co-determined to a significant degree. The challenge of food security is multi-scalar and cross-sector in nature. Addressing it will require the work of diverse actors to bring sustained improvements inhuman development and to reduce pressure on the environment. Unless there is investment in future food systems that are similarly cross-level, cross-scale and cross-sector, sustained improvements in human wellbeing together with reduced environmental risks and scarcities will not be achieved. This paper reviews current thinking, and outlines these challenges. It suggests that essential elements in a successfully adaptive and proactive food system include: learning – through connectivity between scales to local experience and technologies – high levels of interaction between diverse actors and sectors ranging from primary producers to retailers and consumers, and use of frontier technologies.