Creating a Sustainable Food Future, Installment Nine
Installment 9 of Creating a Sustainable Food Future shows that any dedicated use of land for growing bioenergy inherently comes at the cost of not using that land for growing food or animal feed, or for storing carbon.
The UN proposed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to eradicate extreme poverty, placing economic transformation and environmental sustainability at the center of the agenda. WRI and 10 other institutes in the Independent Research Forum (IRF) on the Post-2015 Development Agenda organized discussions with negotiators of the UN Open Working Group on SDGs and provided recommendations.
At the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), governments concluded that the world needed a more ambitious, universal global development agenda after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015. To meet the challenge of eradicating poverty and expanding the global economy while protecting the environment, the new agenda needed to go beyond the MDGs to more deeply engage the private sector, local governments and civil society. Reaching such a consensus on this complex, politically charged issue required that negotiators shift from the formal UN process to substantive discussions about a strengthened successor to the MDGs.
WRI and 10 other institutes in the Independent Research Forum (IRF) on the Post-2015 Development Agenda organized a series of informal retreats for negotiators of the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), together with other UN Member States and senior UN officials. The retreats created a safe space to discuss the complex, potentially divisive questions of how to make the goals apply to all countries, and how to integrate social, economic and environmental sustainability. WRI’s analysis and facilitation, together with IRF, helped provide an opportunity for dialogue rather than negotiations, and allowed participants to test ideas and identify solutions. WRI’s project teams also gave regular input, providing concrete recommendations on global targets for sustainable food systems, energy, water, terrestrial ecosystems, oceans, climate change, cities, sustainable growth, sustainable consumption and production, and governance.
The Open Working Group Outcome Document, adopted in July 2014, proposes 17 ambitious SDGs. The SDGs mark a shift from the MDGs, aiming to eradicate extreme poverty in all its forms and placing economic transformation and environmental sustainability on equal footing at the center of the agenda. All countries will need to take action to implement the agenda, and civil society and the private sector will also be critical to the SDGs’ success. With one more year until the SDGs are due to be adopted at a UN Summit in September 2015, WRI stands ready to continue its support.
The world is on a path to need almost 70 percent more crops in 2050 than those it produced in 2006. To close that crop gap without large price increases or clearing more valuable forests and savannas, yields are going to have to grow 33 percent more in the next 44 years than they did in the last 44.
How does the world feed more than 9 billion people in the year 2050 in a manner that not only advances economic development but also reduces agriculture’s impact on the environment? How will we know if we’re on the right path?
WRI recently reviewed a number of existing indicators on the environmental sustainability of agriculture and identified gaps. Our analysis uncovers a need for improvements in indicators as well as the data underlying them—in particular, what we call the “3Ps, 5 themes, and 7 criteria.”