New recommendations on Food Security and Health issued by the UN Secretary General’s Scientific Advisory Board

28 December 2016

The world needs to recognize the gravity of the new food and nutrition security problem and take action to invest in science, technology and innovation, as well as advance supportive policies today so that the global future food and nutritional needs are secured, according to a new policy brief released today by the UN Secretary General’s Scientific Advisory Board. The policy brief highlights seven key messages and recommendations to identify and address issues related to food security and health, in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly the 2nd Sustainable Development Goal to “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”.

Feeding humanity sustainably has emerged as a serious global agenda for society. In the short run, concerns about global food security are about hunger and poverty among the poor, most acute and urgent in developing countries, where some 800 million people go hungry, and children are threatened with stunting. The Board examined food security in a broader context, such as the utilization and conservation of our natural resources, more efficient food production practices and utilization patterns, the impacts of climate change, as well as minimizing global food loss and waste. Required diet changes, with shifts from high calories to more protein-based foods, are among the issues discussed in the brief.

This policy brief was prepared under the leadership of Board-member Gebisa Ejeta. According to the Scientific Advisory Board, human and institutional capacity in many poor nations are in dire need of enhancement; they need to be greatly strengthened so that these nations can be part of the solutions as significant players in a new global food- system that could meet the growing global food & nutrition needs.

The Board also makes a case for strong public and private partnerships, which are critical to foster the development of successful and sustainable commercial ‘food systems’ to support economic growth, provide gainful employment, and meet the food and nutritional needs for greater health of the society.

The policy brief, prepared under the leadership highlights the need to tie global food security to stronger national and global policies that support climate-smart production systems with profitable enterprises and food systems that are also committed to the stewardship of the endowments of planet Earth.

Through investments in science, we can create an opportunity to slow down and reverse harmful events and trends by decisions that we make today,” concludes the Board.

We have learned from the past that investments in agricultural sciences in the 20th century have averted disasters and paid great dividends. In alignment with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, it is not impossible that we can produce enough food on this single planet to feed nine billion in an environmentally sustainable way through creative science and innovation, as well as local wisdom and effective policies”, explains Gebisa Ejeta.

Created in 2014 in recognition of science’s critical role in the implementation of sustainable development objectives, the Scientific Advisory Board is a unique experiment that provided the foundation for interdisciplinary scientific advice to the UN Secretary-General. UNESCO serves as the Secretariat of the Board.