The sustainability quest: Cleaner diet, greener actions

Almost all forms of food begin with agriculture. Natural resources such as land and water are vital for food production but are now under immense pressure due to reasons including a growing population, urbanisation and climate change.

Sridhar Dharmapuri, senior food safety and nutrition officer, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, elaborated to Food & Beverage Asia: “The challenge for humanity is to ensure that agriculture fulfils the food security and nutrition needs of all people, uses scarce natural resources optimally, reduces its carbon footprint, and continues to provide sustainable and better livelihoods for the hundreds of millions of smallholder farmers and their families.”

The importance of transforming food systems and land use was highlighted by the FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu at this year’s World Economic Forum. Emphasising that agri-food systems are more complex than food systems, Qu explained that land is foundational for human life and biodiversity, serves as “the basis for economy, society and environment”, and is “vital for productivity and sustainability of

agri-food systems”. He further urged the need for effective land use and land sustainable management to maximise agricultural productivity while minimising the negative environmental impacts.

Climate Action and Life on Land are part of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined in the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. But with less than a decade left before hitting the deadline, “the world is not on track to achieve the SDGs by 2030,” Dharmapuri declared.

He cited from the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020, which revealed that the 15-year global effort was already off track by the end of 2019. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed an unprecedented crisis, causing further disruption to SDG progress.

Dharmapuri continued: “FAO is supporting countries to adopt a whole system approach to ensure benefits of smallholder farmers through innovations and good practices while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing biodiversity. Farmers’ access to markets is being improved through digital technologies. Smart people oriented policies are being formulated, which, in turn, will foster inclusive and equitable access to food and reduce malnourishment. A holistic approach is necessary to achieve all the SDGs.”

Full study is published in Food & Beverage Asia April/May 2021 issue. Click here to read more.