International Science and Policy Interaction for Improved Food and Nutrition Security: Toward an International Panel on Food and Nutrition (IPFN)

by Joachim Von Braun and Matthias Kalkuhl

Establishing and maintaining the socio-economic, public health, environmental and political conditions for food and nutrition security is a high priority of societies and decision makers. As many people in the world are still deprived of sufficient access to nutritious food and healthy living conditions (see Table 1), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) postulate for 2030 to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” (Goal 2). Achieving this goal is not possible in isolation, as it is closely connected to progress in other domains mentioned among the SDGs, e.g. “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”(Goal 3), “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”(Goal 5), “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”(Goal 6), “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”(Goal 12), “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”(Goal 13), “Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss”(Goal 15), as well as the primary goal of “End poverty in all its forms everywhere” (Goal 1).
Achieving food and nutrition security will not only require strong commitment by policy makers but also solid scientific knowledge and transparent public discourse on instruments, synergies, trade-offs and risks. Even beyond 2030, the stability of the global food system will remain being exposed to environmental and health risks (IPCC 2014, ELD Initiative 2015), population pressure (Gerland et al. 2014), constraints in production, disruptions in trade or conflicts. Tackling that science agenda is not a project or a study, but calls for a permanent mechanism that draws systematically on the global science capacities in new ways currently not available.

The paper can be read or downloaded here.

A rights-based food security principle for biomass sustainability standards and certification systems

by Anna Mohr, Tina Beuchelt, Rafael Schneider and Detlef Virchow

With the shift from petroleum-based to biomass-based economies, global biomass demand and trade is growing. This trend could become a threat to food security. Though rising concerns about sustainability aspects have led to the development of voluntary certification standards to ensure that biomass is sustainably produced, food security aspects are hardly addressed as practical criteria and indicators lack. The research objective of this working paper is to identify how the Human Right to adequate Food (RtaF), which is applicable in over 100 countries, can be ensured in local biomass production and in certification systems in food insecure regions. We aim to first develop a suitable conceptual framework to integrate the RtaF in biomass production, processing and trade and derive guidance for the choice of the criteria. Second, we identify appropriate criteria to ensure that the RtaF is not violated by certified biomass operators based on a comprehensive literature review, stakeholder workshops and expert interviews with certification bodies, standard initiatives, NGOs, ministries, scientists and enterprises. The conceptual framework is based on the UN “Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the RtaF in the Context of National Food Security” and the four dimensions of food security. Based on this framework, we developed the rights-based food security principle. To ensure that the RtaF is not adversely affected by certified biomass production and trade, we propose 45 criteria, classified in 17 themes which are derived from the voluntary guidelines. The suggested criteria are applicable to all biomass types and uses and serve as a best-practice set to complement existing sustainability standards for biomass.

The paper can be read or downloaded here.

Tapping Potentials of Innovation for Food Security and Sustainable Agricultural Growth: An Africa-Wide Perspective

by Christine Husmann, Joachim von Braun, Ousmane  Badiane, Yemi Akinbamijo, Fatunbi O. Abiodun and Detlef Virchow

While in the past, increased use of inputs and expansion of agricultural land accounted for a good part of agricultural growth in Africa, improvements in productivity will need to be a major driver of growth in the future. Thus, agricultural innovations are needed to sustainably increase productivity, i.e. output per unit of all inputs, while maintaining environmental quality and resources. Such innovations require enhanced investments in research and development. This study identifies potentials in agriculture and food systems in Africa for enhanced food security. For maximum impact, the Special Initiative “One World – No Hunger” of BMZ needs to take note of the whole African landscape of actions in agriculture and food security. Therefor this study provides a detailed review of related ongoing and recent initiatives, in order to help identify in what ways investments under the “One World – No Hunger“ Special Initiative from a broad strategic perspective might best connect and serve in coherent and complementary ways to increase food and nutrition security and sustainable agricultural productivity growth. Innovations in the agricultural sector are key to ensure food security and achieve the right to food. Investments in the agricultural sector are crucial not only to increase food production but also because the returns on investments in terms of poverty reduction effects are often highest in in this sector. Furthermore, food insecurity and violent conflicts are inextricably interlinked with food insecurity being both a driver and a consequence of violent conflicts and related refugee flows. African countries have recently made major commitments to invest in agriculture. The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), that was initiated in 2003 and has been reinforced by the Malabo Declaration in 2014, is now the reference point and measure of commitment in Africa. With CAADP, African countries committed to spend 10% of their total public expenditures on agriculture to achieve an annual agricultural growth rate of 6%. Other African and international initiatives, including new partnerships between African governments, donors and the private sector like the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition or Feed the Future, have since been launched to support the CAADP process.

The paper can be read or downloaded here.


Changing Aspirations, Cultural Models of Success, and Social Mobility in Northern Ghana

by Wolfram Laube

In northern Ghana, many young people, but also parents, teachers, and local authorities, believe that formal education and professional careers provide the only effective means for the rural youth to get ahead. This paper shows how aspirations have been historically changing and analyses in how far new career pathways lead to upward social mobility. Results from qualitative and quantitative research show how weak public education and a lack of educational funding as well as employment opportunities frustrate local aspirations and undermine upward social mobility. However, cultural models of personal success based on an interesting mix of local social values and developmental discourses afford the marginalized youth avenues to social recognition and status.

The paper can be read or downloaded here.