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Copenhagen Consensus Center

Post-2015 Consensus: Food Security and Nutrition Viewpoint, Boubaker

Viewpoint Paper

Ben Belhassen discusses food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture in a broader context. The MDGs’ exclusive focus on the vital issue of reducing hunger unfortunately left many facets of food security unnoticed. Targets under proposed Goal 2 of the SDGs address the crucial access dimension of food security, the entire spectrum of malnutrition, the productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers, resilience of food production systems and the sustainable use of biodiversity and genetic resources.

To a large extent, moving towards sustainable agricultural production systems means investing in the capacities, and securing the tenure rights of, the half a billion or so smallholder farmers who produce most of the world’s food, in order to help them remain stewards of natural resources and environmental wellbeing. Particular attention has to be paid to access to food in rural areas, where 75% of the world’s poor live. The food must be both sufficient and provide a well-balanced diet: the costs of under-nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are estimated at 2-3% of global GDP, equivalent to US$ 1.4-2.1 trillion per year.

The role of agriculture in producing food, generating jobs and income and supporting livelihoods is fundamental – agricultural growth in low-income and agrarian economies is twice as effective in reducing hunger and poverty as growth in other sectors, mainly by enhancing employment and incomes. There is also a critical need for a social protection floor to enable hundreds of millions to overcome hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Finally, improved governance of food and agricultural systems will be crucial. Only with a holistic and bold approach to ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all their dimensions and a new commitment to sustainable agriculture and the sustainable use and management of natural resources can we hope that every human being will lead a healthy and productive life.