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Food and agriculture at a crossroads-World Report.

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has just released its report, Transforming food and agriculture to achieve the SDG’s. The report contains guidelines that are primarily directed towards decision-makers responsible for integrating the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into national policies and programmes. 

The key message is that the food and agriculture industries are standing at a crossroads. Looking back, major improvements in agricultural productivity have been recorded over recent decades to satisfy the food demand of a growing global population. But progress has often come with social and environmental costs, including water scarcity, soil degradation, ecosystem stress, biodiversity loss, decreasing fish stocks and forest cover, and high levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

The productive potential of our natural resources base has been damaged in many areas around the globe, compromising the future fertility of the planet. Today, 815 million people are hungry, and every third person is malnourished, reflecting a food system out of balance. Distress migration is at levels unprecedented for more than 70 years as the social cohesion and cultural traditions of rural populations are threatened by a combination of limited access to land and resources and rising numbers of crises, conflicts and disasters, many as a consequence of climate change.

Looking ahead, the path to inclusive prosperity is clearly marked by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Overcoming the complex challenges that the world faces requires transformative action, embracing the principles of sustainability and tackling the root causes of poverty and hunger to leave no-one behind. As the prime connection between people and the planet, food and agriculture can help achieve multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Properly nourished children can learn, people can lead healthy and productive lives and societies can prosper. By nurturing our land and adopting sustainable agriculture, present and future generations will be able to feed a growing population.

Agriculture – covering crops, livestock, aquaculture, fisheries and forests – is the world’s biggest employer, and the largest economic sector for many countries, while providing the main source of food and income for the extreme poor. Sustainable food and agriculture have great potential to revitalise the rural landscape, deliver inclusive growth to countries and drive positive change right across the 2030 Agenda. Written with national policymakers and development actors primarily in mind, this guide presents a set of actions to speed up the transformation to sustainable food and agriculture that are based on evidence, experience, technical expertise and collective knowledge within FAO.

These actions embrace the 2030 Agenda’s vision of sustainable development in which food and agriculture, people’s livelihoods and the management of natural resources are addressed not separately but as one; a future where the focus is not solely on the end goal but also on the means used to achieve it; and a setting where public and private actors participate in legitimising, engage in shaping and work towards achieving development solutions – FAO


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