Food related non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, as well as malnutrition are important developmental challenges tightly linked to environmental concerns.
Increased focus on the production of a few staple crops and an overreliance on sugar and oil crops have had negative impacts on both environmental and human health.
The complex nature of today's global challenges requires a fresh look at how people interact with their environments in order to reach food and nutrition security while maintaining, restoring, and securing the ecosystems upon which we are ultimately dependent.
At the Global Landscapes Forum that took place in Paris in early December 2015, during COP21, the Stockholm Resilience Centre, EAT Initiative, Bioversity International and CGIAR organized a panel discussion to focus on the linkages between healthy landscapes and healthy people.
The panel featured Johan Rockström, centre director, Sara Scherr, President and CEO at EcoAgriculture Partners and Patrick Holden, Founder and CEO at Sustainable Food Trust, and was moderated by Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Former Director General of IUCN.
SwedBio contributed through Bioversity International to participation of policy and development partners from the global south in the Forum, as well as for developing outreach materials to inform policy makers and support knowledge collaboration about this thematic area.
A broader picture
In September 2015 the UN adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to succeed the Millennium Development Goals. The 17 goals cut across all sectors of society and are at the same time closely linked to each other.
While one goal specifically is to end hunger, several of the other goals are directly linked to this, and will need to be addressed simultaneously.
To achieve healthier diets from more sustainable food production systems, we need to manage them for multiple benefits and more diverse production that aligns with achieving health goals. This includes production of for example fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
This calls for approaches that are broader in their scope. Managing for landscapes and seascapes that are multifunctional is one way of working to ensure production systems that supply us with adequate nutrition without degrading ecological functions.
A multifunctional approach to agricultural and marine production systems that generate multiple ecosystem services of benefit to society, beyond food production in itself, can help achieve the sustainability goals.
"In the last few years we've seen growing recognition of the
importance of the landscape approach for achieving sustainable food systems."
Sara Scherr, president and CEO of EcoAgriculture Partners
A necessary future trajectory
In a changing climate it is important to recognize that healthy ecosystems are at the core of food production.
Taking a landscapes perspective when thinking about food production also makes it possible to take into account the "wild" food sources that are particularly important for low-income groups in societies, and helps us recognize niches of the landscape that can be used for emergency food supply.
In light of this, policies on both the demand and supply side need to realign themselves toward both food-based dietary and sustainability goals.
Business also needs to develop new models, standards, and approaches that increase the access to healthier foods that are produced in ways that support vibrant communities, and resilient production landscapes.
"We can have good healthy food produced within planetary boundaries, but it requires innovation and transformational change as well as behavioral change in the way we do and think about agriculture. It is encouraging to see some developments in this direction politically, with for example the adoption of the SDGs," concluded Rockström. "We now need recognition and support from funders and policymakers to bring sustainable approaches to scale."
The panel from the left: Sara Scherr, President and CEO at EcoAgriculture Partners, Patrick Holden, Founder and CEO at Sustainable Food Trust, Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Former Director General of IUCN, and centre directo Johan Rockström.
Research news | 2018-03-22
As ocean temperatures rise globally, all eyes are on the Arctic’s unexploited region. But several issues must be considered before diving into unchartered fishing territory
Research news | 2018-03-20
A final reply to Montoya et. al's criticism of the planetary boundaries framework
General news | 2018-03-19
In 2017, we surpassed one thousand published articles in peer-reviewed journals and we hosted the fourth international conference on resilience and sustainability science. Another year to be proud of, we think
Research news | 2018-03-14
Amid an increase in megacities, changes in ecosystems far away can affect local access to freshwater
Research news | 2018-03-12
Ten essentials for guiding action-oriented research on energy transformation and climate change
Research news | 2018-03-09
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we have been highlighting some of our women researchers at the centre. In our final profile this week, we showcase associate professor Beatrice Crona, whose work spans from small-scale fisheries governance to global drivers of change.