CCAFS / CGIAR / Climate Change / Environment / Food Security / ILRI / NRM / Opinion piece

Move our global food systems into a ‘safe space’–Memo to G8 from CGIAR’s Bruce Campbell

Watch this elegant 6-minute film: How to fed the world by 2050: Actions in a changing climate.

Film summary: To achieve food security in a changing climate, the global community must operate within three limits: the quantity of food that can be produced under a given climate; the quantity needed by a growing and changing population; and the effect of food production on the climate. At present the planet operates outside that safe space, as witnessed by the enormous number of people who are undernourished. If current trends in population growth, diets, crop yields and climate change continue, the world will still be outside this ‘safe operating space’ in 2050. Humanity must urgently work to enlarge the safe space and also move the planet into the safe space (film credit: Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, an initiative of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security, in collaboration with University of Minnesota Global Landscapes Initiative).

The Huffington Post has run a series of blogs by leading non-governmental organizations to call attention to a range of issues that should be raised at the G8 summit at Camp David, which just took place in rural Maryland, 18–19 May 2012. One of these opinion pieces is by Bruce Campbell, who leads the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, of which the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is a part.

In his opinion piece, Campbell warns that ‘Our window of opportunity to avert a humanitarian, environmental and climate crisis is rapidly closing. Currently, the global food system contributes 19–29 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions and is seen as one of the main drivers of global climate change. There are currently 1 billion people hungry and in only 15 years’ time, there will be 1 billion more mouths to feed. Ironically, there are also 1.5 billion overweight people in the world. Consumer food waste in the developed world can be considerable (30 percent in the UK, for instance) while in the developing world, an equal percentage (or more) can be lost during and after harvests due to poor pest control, inadequate storage facilities as well as lack of access to markets for selling crops.

These simple facts tell us that not only that we must redouble our efforts to increase our overall food production, but that we must do this with a smaller impact on the climate while promoting sustainable diets and uncovering new methods for efficient distribution and waste prevention.

‘Fixing our food system is indeed a colossal task, but there are huge opportunities for transformation, should global leaders take heed. Agriculture accounts for almost 40 percent of employment around the world, as well as 70 percent of water use, and covers more land that any other human enterprise. In addition, 95 percent of the world’s farmers live in the developing world and produce the majority of the world’s food. They are also among the most vulnerable to climate change shocks such as floods or drought.

As such a vital part of the economy and of society, how can agriculture not be a top priority on the global political agenda? . . .’

Read the whole opinion piece by Bruce Campbell in the Huffington Post: Food security: A ripe opportunity for the G8, 18 May 2012.

About CCAFS: The CGIAR Research Program, Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), is a strategic partnership of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR) and the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP). The Program’s lead center is the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). The program is funded by bilateral and multilateral donor agencies, and is staffed by people based at leading research institutions worldwide.

About Bruce Campbell: Director of CCAFS since 2009 and chair of Agriculture and Rural Development Day, a gathering on 18 June 2012 of the world’s leading agricultural scientists and food system thinkers at the Rio+20 sustainable development summit, Bruce Campbell is an ecologist who champions new approaches to applied research in managing natural resources. Campbell spent two decades working on social-ecological systems in southern Africa, covering small to large forestry, livestock, dryland and irrigated cropping production systems. For ten years, he directed a team of 50 scientists in a forests and livelihoods program at the Centre for International Forestry Research, based in Indonesia, and he spent time in northern Australia, working on natural resource management by Aboriginal communities.

One thought on “Move our global food systems into a ‘safe space’–Memo to G8 from CGIAR’s Bruce Campbell

  1. Also on 18 May 2012, Bill Gates issued the following statement commending the day’s announcement by President Obama of investment in Africa’s agriculture to help millions of people lift themselves out of hunger and poverty.

    ‘President Obama as chair of the G8 announced support for a range of efforts to increase the productivity and nutrition of smallholder farmers. He also launched a “New Alliance for Nutrition and Food Security,” an agricultural development program partnering donors with African countries and the private sector.

    ‘“I welcome President Obama’s commitment to help ensure coordinated global attention to the critical issue of agricultural development,” said Gates. “These are exactly the kind of smart, innovative partnerships with African governments we need to accelerate progress and I hope that the G8 will put in place clear, actionable targets and accountability mechanisms to ensure these efforts are meaningful. Unless we measure, we can’t see if we are succeeding.”

    ‘Today’s announcement also calls for continued support for the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), which was launched two years by the United States, Spain, Canada, South Korea, and the foundation.

    ‘By combining strong partnerships, smart investments, and innovative thinking, the foundation believes the global community can enable hard working smallholder farmers to become self-sufficient and build better lives.’

    Find Gates’ statement posted on his foundation’s website here:

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