Notice: Undefined index: id in /home/ft4user/ on line 3
  • Home
  • Sustainable Food Systems for All: Inclusivity Matters!

Sustainable Food Systems for All: Inclusivity Matters!

Notice: Undefined variable: id_overview in /home/ft4user/ on line 64
On World Food Day, we wish to acknowledge the critical role of forests, trees and agroforestry to global FSN
Posted by

FTA communications

World Food Day 2020: underlining the role of forests, trees and agroforestry for food security and nutrition.

Despite the global fight against food and nutrition insecurity, the world still suffers from an increasing number of hungry people, persistently high rates of stunted children, and a growing population of overweight and obese adults. Not enough progress has been made towards reaching the second Sustainable Development Goal related to zero hunger. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues even further, exposing the flaws of our current food system. The current  ‘business as usual’ model of feeding the world by focusing on producing more foods does not work; It destroys the environment and leaves marginalized people behind. How can we redesign our food systems to be more inclusive and ecologically sustainable, while providing sufficient and nutritious food for everyone? Today is the perfect time to reflect on this question as we celebrate ‘World Food’ in the middle of a pandemic that has been projected to cause more than a quarter billion of additional hungry people by the end of this year.

As part of the UN SDG Action Zone, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), recently hosted a session moderated by Kuntum Melati and Sofia Cavalleri, entitled “Protection For Resilience: Synergizing SDGs to Achieve Resilient Food Systems”. The panel included voices of youth, civil society organizations, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLC) and the private sector, all of whom are working to redesign the food systems.

Nature-based solutions for food system problems

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) food and nutrition researcher Mulia Nurhasan, highlighted the role of forests, trees and agroforestry for food security and nutrition. Scientific evidence has shown that forests and trees are linked to dietary diversity and better nutritional status of children and women.

Amazon wild fruits. Brazil. Photo by Neil Palmer/CIAT

Forests, trees and agroforestry also provide a multitude of ecosystem services that could simultaneously support food production, nutrition, environment and human health. CIFOR leads the largest research and development program on forests, trees and agroforestry (FTA), to address among other, food security and climate change issues. With findings from FTA research and more, Mulia urged for food security and nutrition programs that maintain forests intact, feed local people, diversify their diets and enhance the ecosystem services of their surroundings.

Above-ground and below-ground biomass in mangrove ecosystems. Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo by Sigit Deni Sasmito/CIFOR

Santosh Singh, head of Energy, Climate Change and Agriculture at Intellecap, an impact enterprise that aims to support equitable and inclusive markets,  advocated for the practice of circularity and sustainability to be mainstreamed in food production systems. Circularity encompasses several elements including sustainable production practices, investment in consumer behavioural change and localisation of food systems through circular agriculture approaches. This way, farmers can diversify income sources and reduce their costs of cultivation, helping address both poverty and food waste.

Building resilient food systems requires inclusive action 

Inclusive food systems involve and integrate people from diverse backgrounds and across generations. This takes into account that people are their own agents of change. The 2020 Global Food Policy Report highlights that policies on food security must acknowledge the imperative role of youth, women, indigenous people and other marginalised groups in shaping their food systems.

Happy Grocers, a youth-led, female-led start-up based in Bangkok, is a shining example of the vital role that youth activism can play for food security. Their co-founder Moh Suthasiny, shared how this social enterprise is redesigning city-regional food systems from the bottom-up. The vision of the young Happy Grocers team is to educate and empower conscious urban Bangkokian consumers who can actively support small-scale rural farmers through their sustainable consumer behaviour.

Indigenous communities are sometimes perceived as the target of development support. But interestingly, in these times of the pandemic, many of them seem to be more resilient towards the global food supply shock, due to their self-reliance and nature dependent lifestyle, which is sometimes erroneously interpreted as a sign of underdevelopment. Indigenous communities who live near the forest have also been the custodians of biodiversity through sustainable consumption of wild foods across centuries. We need to acknowledge and protect indigenous food systems for their fundamental contribution to the sustainability of global food systems.

Women in Kapuas Hulu helping prepare for local food. Photo by Icaro Cooke Vieira/CIFOR

The session concluded with a discussion on the necessity to redesign food systems in a way that they are truly sustainable for all. Panellists agreed that in order to achieve a long-lasting sustainability, food systems need to be fully inclusive and ecological. While it is crucial to ensure that we are able to feed a growing population, narrowly focusing on producing more food has hampered efforts to achieve many other development goals. All stakeholders in food systems need to be recognized as agents of change, development programs need to extend their scope beyond feeding the world and need to strive to empower food system actors to be part of the solution, and recognize that we all need to work with nature, not against it. Only then, we can grow, nourish and sustain, together.

Happy world food day to everyone!

By Kuntum Melati, Michaela Lo, Sofia Cavalleri, Mulia Nurhasan. Kuntum Melati is a Policy Specialist – SDGs at SEI Asia. Sofia Cavalleri is a joint PhD Candidate at SEI Asia and Chulalongkorn University. Mulia Nurhasan is a Research Associate at CIFOR. Michaela Lo is a Research Consultant at CIFOR and undertaking her PhD at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent.

This article was produced by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). FTA is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR, ICRAF and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

Notice: Undefined index: id in /home/ft4user/ on line 3
  • Home
  • Quality over quantity: Changing diets and consumption

Quality over quantity: Changing diets and consumption

Notice: Undefined variable: id_overview in /home/ft4user/ on line 64
Posted by


Online discussion for World Food Day sheds light on alternative ways to achieve global food security and sustainability

By Charlie Nelson, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

Photo: Ollivier Girard/CIFOR
Photo: Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

It might come as a surprise to most people that enough food is produced globally to feed approximately 10 billion people. That’s enough to support our growing population until we reach estimated 2050 levels. How is it that we produce enough food for 10 billion people yet still struggle to feed our current population of 7 billion? Simply, world hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, not by a lack of production alone.

These issues and more were put to a global audience last week in a live Twitter Q&A session on food security and sustainability hosted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in partnership with the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) to mark World Food Day.

The Twitter session aimed to let people discuss issues and ask questions directly to the experts who could answer them. Terry Sunderland, a leading scientist for CIFOR’s Sustainable Landscapes and Food Systems Theme, joined the discussion to challenge the idea that we need to produce more food to keep up with rising consumption levels and a growing population.

Is production or demand the problem. Evidence suggests we currently grow enough food for 10 billion people:

— Terry Sunderland (@TCHSunderland) October 12, 2016

Population and production

Kicking off the Twitter Q&A, CGIAR asked: “How can we sustainably increase food production to meet the demand of a growing population?”. As the resulting discussion showed, the short answer is: we can’t. We are not just facing the problem of a growing population, but one that is increasingly consuming more resource-intensive items that require a larger proportion of the crops we produce. Studies suggest that demand for meat increases as incomes increase: as people start to earn more money they also start to eat more meat.

Q1: How can we sustainably increase food production to meet the demand of a growing population? #CGIARGoals#WorldFoodDay #WFD2016

— CGIAR (@CGIAR) October 12, 2016

With countries such as India and China developing rapidly and moving away from less meat-based or vegetarian diets, we’re looking at the world’s two most populous countries moving toward Western consumption levels. This has the potential to tip world consumption beyond the point of sustainability and leave the notion of equality in the past, along with those who cannot compete with Western purchasing power.

According to a report published in the Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, “The bulk of industrially produced grain crops goes to biofuels and confined animal feedlots rather than food for the one billion hungry. The call to double food production by 2050 only applies if we continue to prioritize the growing population of livestock and automobiles over hungry people.”

The sad truth is that most of the crops we produce are used for biofuels and meat production — just because those products are more profitable than the crops are as food. The problem, then, is that the people who earn less than $2 a day cannot afford to buy these crops for food. The reality in most developed, wealthy countries is that the shelf price of a product does not reflect the actual cost of making that product. The sadder news is that people lucky enough to be from developed countries can and will out-spend the rural family living on $2 a day without even realizing it.

Be careful what you wish for. More income doesn’t mean better diets: Also: More to come.

— Terry Sunderland (@TCHSunderland) October 12, 2016

The quantity of available food isn’t the only issue, either. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), malnutrition affects approximately 2 billion people compared to the 1 billion that are hungry. Obesity rates are rising in every country while malnutrition rates aren’t decreasing fast enough. The way we think about our diets must change.

Let’s examine our food systems to look beyond calories and towards dietary diversity and better nutrition:

— Terry Sunderland (@TCHSunderland) October 12, 2016

The forest connection

CIFOR scientists Amy Ickowitz and Terry Sunderland have been researching the relationship between forests and diets. In a recent report they showed that children who lived in communities with better tree cover had more diverse diets compared to those who didn’t. People living closer to forests have access to a wide variety of fruits, nuts and meat that can be foraged and hunted. This gives them alternative options to the staple crops that dominate diets elsewhere.

For World Food Day, CIFOR scientist Amy Ickowitz shares her views on why forests are important for nutrition. @cifor

— Terry Sunderland (@TCHSunderland) October 18, 2016

Space to change

There are changes that every person can make to live a fairer and more sustainable lifestyle. Based on a recent UNEP report on the environmental impacts of consumption and production, the UN has recommended that we must all move toward a meat- and dairy-free diet to improve equal access to food and fight the effects of climate change. This would be a drastic step for most. However, it may help to bear in mind that our demand is our vote; every choice we make on every purchase, whether it is food, fuel or technology, is a vote in support of that product. In simple terms, if you buy it, producers will continue to make it.


Food and a future: How restored forests help women in Burkina Faso

The problem is essentially a lack of awareness about unsustainable lifestyles. There is only so much that policy makers and government officials can do to curb demand. Really, the responsibility lands on every one of us. This is why it is essential to discuss these issues openly and inclusively on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. These platforms can reach a broad range of people, no matter where they might be. If we’re going to change the opinions and behavior of people en masse, then social media provides the space for anyone to openly discuss their concerns and ask questions directly to the people who can answer them.

In the end, the power to change the world and feed the hungry is very much in our hands and in our pockets — but the space to change may be online.

See the rest of the story at

Nutrition and landscapes
Rural women across the globe: Linking livelihoods and landscapes
Bergegas meratifikasi Perjanjian Paris

Source: Forests News English

Back to top

Sign up to our monthly newsletter

Connect with us