From 2012-2016, Global Action Platform engaged over four hundred of the world’s leading experts and executives in food, health, and economics to define the major challenges and opportunities for advancing scalable, sustainable solutions for abundant food, health, and prosperity. Joining these experts were some 3,000 corporate, university, investor, government, and NGO leaders who participated in annual Summits and Forums where these ideas were discussed. As Global Action Platform concludes its first five years of work, launches the innovation hub at oneC1TY as a living laboratory for urban solutions, and works with GPSS and the IPEU to launch a living laboratory for rural solutions in the Philippines, we have consolidated and synthesized the ideas of the past five years into a knowledge base presented here. We see this knowledge base as a foundation for effective strategies to inform our work moving forward, and offer it as a synopsis of best practices for others who want to join with us in creating a world of abundant food, health, and prosperity. Foundations for Creating Abundant Food Over the past five years, experts across the food research and industry sectors worked with Global Action Platform to frame scalable, sustainable solutions for abundant, nutritious food for all people. As framed by these leaders, the food landscape between 2012-2016 consisted of five main areas of strategic importance:
- Food Strategy and Systems
- Food Business Models
- Food Science and Technology
- Agriculture-Climate-Environment Nexus
- Food Culture and Nutrition
- Double available food for the world through increased production and decreased waste;
- Increase investment in infrastructure and technology to deliver food to market without loss and improved food safety;
- Transition to sustainable, climate-smart agriculture that transforms agriculture from the world’s most polluting sector to the world’s most sustainable force for bio-diversity and environmental sustainability;
- develop new school programs to create the next generation of farmers and food entrepreneurs; and
- build trust, innovation and collaboration among farmers, businesses, governments, research institutions, foundations/NGOs and finance to overcome current polarization among the sectors needed to redesign the current system.
- Restore strong food cultures and the connection between wellbeing and diet.
- Price Volatility: Farmers face consistently low prices for their foods. Without increases to food prices, agriculture will not be sustainable for farmers. Biofuel mandates have added constraints and rigidity to the system.
- Poverty: The cycle of poverty and disease enslaves 2.3 billion people globally resulting in long-term social and economic disruptions stemming from a lack of nutrition.
- Climate Change: Climate change is altering the landscape for food production. The world faces as much as a four degrees’ Celsius warmer world which could decline food staple production by 10-15% over current levels.
- Governmental Regulations: The global food system is dependent on the government policies and regulations that affect trade issues, safety issues, and equity and often discriminate against the poor and most vulnerable.
- Food Waste: Globally, $750 billion worth of food is wasted each year. As the third largest consumer of food after the US and China, food waste is a critical issue. Solutions will address what happens to food upon leaving the farm, during transportation, how food is stored and displayed in retail stores, in food service, and at home are all part of the problem.
- Synthetic biology to increase farming in urban areas
- Leveraging technology to expose farmers, distributers, and consumers to facts
- Utilize “big data” to inform development goals
- Cultivating collaboration and innovation among farmers
- Increasing water efficiency, safety, and quality
- Creating forward-looking companies
- Continuing to innovate to optimize food systems through biotechnology and other means
- Using technology to reduce food waste can reduce the required food production from 70% to 20%.
- Recognizing the true value of food will help achieve the right pricing structure as there are many external impacts not included in the price of food
- Involving the public in more science-based discussions about food can build trust and move appropriate technology innovations forward;
- Increasing understanding among food scientists of the culture and values surrounding food;
- Engaging private investment in agricultural innovation to make long-term commitments
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The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.