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Commissioners at work: progress on sustainable agriculture and climate change

What does an alternative future food system look like in the face of climate change? Photo: N. Palmer (CIAT)
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Ago 25, 2011



The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change has been hard at work the last few months, synthesising evidence on three overarching questions: (1) What are the major components and drivers of the current food system and what will this system look like in the future? (2) What does an alternative future food system look like and how can this system be brought into being? (3) What investments (technical, political, financial, social) are essential to an alternative future food system and who can make them?

The Commissioners are drawing evidence from major assessment reports that have come out in the last few years, including the 2008 International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the World Bank's World Development report, and the Foresight Future of Food and Farming report from earlier this year.

In addition to synthesizing scientific information the Commissioners have begun engaging key institutions, countries, stakeholders and the media, in order to increase awareness and uptake and catalyse policy progress and mobilization of finance.

Sir John Beddington, Commission Chair and Chief UK Science Advisor, pointed to the Horn of Africa crisis as foretaste of what may come as climate becomes more variable. At the University of Leeds Africa College Conference on Food Security, Health and Impact, Commissioner Molly Jahn of the University of Wisconsin-Madison highlighted cross-cutting approaches in research that address the agricultural, environmental and social constraints faced by the world's poorest farmers. The Commission was also recently profiled by the WorldWatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet blog, which emphasised the Commission's objective to produce a clear, concise, and independent set of policy options will allow the international community to act.

Next Steps

The Commissioners are working to deliver findings over the next few months on the following topics:

•    Major components of the current food system
•    Patterns and drivers of food price volatility and trade
•    Eating patterns and waste / loss in food supply chains
•    Future trajectories and “safe operating spaces”
•    Investments and actions with near- and long-term impact

The Commission’s final report will be published in November 2011 and will contain recommendations relevant to major policy processes including the G-20, the UNFCCC and the Rio+20 Earth Summit.

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