Producing enough food for a rapidly growing population, and taking care of our planet are two of the world's biggest challenges.
Displaying 1-20 of 76 key documents
Source: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A | 2006
This paper reviews the main elements and development of early warning systems, and calls for a global, comprehensive and people-centred system for all hazards and all countries. It stresses the need for a strong focus on the people exposed to risk, as well as a systems approach that incorporates all relevant factors contributing to that risk — whether they arise from natural hazards, social vulnerabilities, or other processes such as migration or development practices.
The paper highlights two disaster reduction frameworks — the Hyogo Framework and the UN International Strategy on Disaster Reduction — which it says are "critically important" for implementing better early warning systems. It concludes by emphasising that despite scientific and technical advances, putting them into practice effectively will require sound institutional mechanisms and multidisciplinary science.
Source: SustainUS | June 2012
This guide provides an overview of water-related topics up for discussion at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). It aims to introduce the Rio+20 process and facilitate relevant stakeholder participation.
It gives an overview of global water commitments, emerging issues related to water resources such as sound management and sustainable urban development, and an outline of where water features in the draft document prepared for the summit. It concludes with policy recommendations which include national strategies that recognise the human right to water, and the establishment of gender indicators that strengthen women's participation in governance. The authors say that a strong unified front from the water community is required to ensure a positive result from the agreements made at Rio+20.
Source: ICRISAT | January 2012
This paper looks at how climate change could affect the rate of phenological development — biological events related to climate, such as flowering — and rainfall patterns during the growing season. The authors suggest that these changes may result in mismatch between water demand by crops and water availability from rainfall.
The paper describes a project that combines a new analysis of meteorological data with previously published data on climatic changes to assess the expected consequences of this mismatch for food security.
The authors illustrate how understanding how key crops might be affected by climate change in the Asia-Pacific region can help farmers, community workers and policymakers to prepare and adapt. Strategies include timing of planting, managing rainwater resources, use of new varieties, alternate crops and shifts in geographic distribution of crops.
Source: UN University | April 2012
This online book aims to offer insight into development issues related to climate change and indigenous peoples that can be useful in policymaking. It provides an overview of more than 400 relevant projects, case studies and research activities.
Different sections cover climate and environmental changes, including local observations, and the impact of these changes on indigenous communities. The book also outlines mitigation and adaptation strategies — based on traditional knowledge and survival skills — that are being implemented by them.
The authors highlight that climate change effects reported by indigenous people include loss of livelihoods; land degradation; impacts on food security; health issues; and water shortages that can affect agriculture, infrastructure, forestry and energy amongst others areas.
Source: EDF and the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF) | May 2012
This publication presents case studies that illustrate the strong links and inter-dependencies between water, food and energy, from the perspective of a range of organisations worldwide. It was produced to inform discussions of the High-Level Panel on the Water, Food and Energy Nexus, held during the 6th World Water Forum 2012. The forum highlighted the need to integrate strategies on water, food and energy and increase resource productivity, as well as improve grassroots participation for sustainable development.
Case studies presented in the report addressed policy processes for ensuring water, food and energy security in African countries, issues associate with management of the Machángara River Basin in South America, drip irrigation in India, dam building in South-East Asia, and irrigation and hydropower in Asia.
Each case study outlines the background and how the case relates to the nexus between water, food and energy; objectives and a summary of actions taken; and results including lessons learnt.
Source: IFPRI | February 2012
The Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) is the first measure of women's empowerment and inclusion in the agricultural sector. It aims to track the change in female empowerment as a result of the US government's Feed the Future initiative that tackles food security.
The WEAI focuses on five areas: decisions on agricultural production, power over resources such as land and livestock, decisions over income, leadership in the community, and use of time. The report features case studies in countries where pilot indices were developed.
The results of pilot projects highlight, among other issues, that wealth is a poor indicator of empowerment, and that lack of control over time can contribute most to disempowerment in some countries.
Source: Center for Global Development | September 2011
This report presents findings from the first randomised evaluation of a cash transfer programme delivered using mobile phones. The study investigated the effect of mobile phone technology on monthly cash transfers to households in Niger that were affected by a severe drought.
Villages that received cash in this way, known as 'zap', saw benefits such as reduced costs of receiving cash, more diverse purchases and diets, and more types of crops. This, suggest the authors, is down to the zap mechanism encouraging different decision-making in the household, as well as due to lower costs and greater privacy.
They conclude that mobile transfers are a cost-effective way of transferring cash to remote rural populations, especially those with limited road and financial infrastructure, but caution that more research is needed on broader effects on the welfare of these populations.
Source: United Nations Environment Management Group | October 2011
This report outlines the first coherent strategy drawn up by the UN to address dryland management, taking into account environmental concerns and the well-being of dryland communities. It examines the relationship between drylands and climate change, food security and livelihoods, and highlights ways in which the UN is working to mainstream drylands into policymaking processes.
Climate change is already having an impact on crop yields and nutrition in areas that rely on rain-fed agriculture, according to the report, and these impacts will intensify by 2020 in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America. The impacts of climate change may be most pronounced in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, suggesting that those already vulnerable will be affected the most.
A key message is that the international community has an opportunity to address the underlying causes of dryland degradation. The report concludes that global cooperation must be intensified if the ten-year strategic plan of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification — whose aim is to tackle desertification and degradation — and the Millennium Development Goals are to be achieved.
Source: Climate Change Adaptation and Development Initiative (CC DARE), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
This paper suggests that research-based, small-scale interventions that help farming systems adapt to climate change can guide progress towards achieving food security and addressing the food crisis in the Horn of Africa.
It outlines lessons learnt from the Climate Change Adaptation and Development Programme jointly implemented by the UN Environment Programme and the UN Development Programme for Sub-Saharan Africa.
The authors argue for a shift away from top-down, corporate approaches to agricultural research and practice, in favour of a democratic approach that involves giving more decision-making power to local people, including farmers and indigenous people. Small-scale initiatives reduce tillage, protect the soil surface and alternate cereal crops with legumes that enrich the soil.
The paper suggests that communicating food security solutions to the public can help balance vested interests and level the field in favour of small producers. Managed effectively, the current drought in the Horn of Africa offers a window of opportunity to re-establish food security as a global priority.
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
This online book, published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, explores Africa's potential for intensifying agricultural production through ecological agriculture — the integration of traditional, conservation oriented farming techniques with modern science and technology.
Building on discussions from the Conference on Ecological Agriculture, held in Ethiopia in 2008, it outlines past experiences such as lessons learned from the Green Revolution in Asia; trends in African agricultural knowledge, science and technology for development; and climate change implications for agriculture.
The book concludes that ecological agriculture can benefit smallholder farmers in several ways such as helping to increase Africa's productivity, and therefore improving food security, and helping farmers adapt to climate change by making agro-ecosystems more resilient to stress. But scaling up ecological agriculture will require policy support as well as additional resources and information.
Source: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) | September 2011
This report presents two case-studies that illustrate problems arising from subsidising fertiliser and electricity for groundwater irrigation in India — a policy put in place in the 1960s to boost food production and food security. It aims to analyse why subsequent reforms of these policies have done little to resolve economic and environmental problems; identify reforms that could prove successful; and outline political processes that could help achieve them.
Using India's experience, it highlights political challenges of using subsidy policies that could also be relevant to other countries.
This analysis is based on a literature review and interviews with stakeholders. The report also presents the conceptual framework, and gives an overview of fertiliser policy in India: how it has evolved, the stakeholders involved in the political process, and the policy implications of subsidy reform. Case-studies of electricity supply in Andhra Pradesh and Punjab are used to demonstrate policy reform feasibility.
The report concludes that for both electricity supply and fertiliser policies, various reforms could be adopted that are unlikely to face significant political obstacles. It argues that experimental and research-based knowledge could be used more effectively.
Source: The Royal Society Philosophical Transactions B | 12 October 2011
This special issue of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Science explores how vaccines can fulfil their full potential for addressing global health challenges. It charts the progress to date, reviewing successes as well as challenges in the development and distribution of both human and veterinary vaccines.
The articles describe how vaccines can help mitigate and treat the world's major infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, as well as chronic diseases, such as cancer. They explore vaccine policy and financing, ways to accelerate the development of new vaccines, issues surrounding public acceptance, and the logistics of getting vaccines to where they are needed. Also discussed is the use of vaccines to treat diseases in livestock — making an important link between health interventions, agricultural output and economic consequences.
The papers in this issue were presented at the meeting, 'New vaccines for global health', held at the Royal Society in London, United Kingdom, in November 2010.
Source: Society for Technology and Action for Rural Advancement (TARA) | November 2010
This report gives background information on current applications of nanotechnology for providing clean drinking water. It includes both technologies still being developed in the laboratory and those that have reached the market.
New water filters and purification systems are now being designed with nanomaterials including carbon nanofiltration membranes, and nanocatalysts such as iron and silver. Such technologies could help countries in the developing world cope with the pressures of a growing population and stressed water services.
The review features research into water nanotechnologies from around the world, with special attention to those developed and marketed in India's water sector. It points to key challenges that may hinder their impact in providing clean drinking water to the poor, and identifies technologies that could be further researched and developed.
Source: International Food Policy Research Institution | May 2011
This paper looks at the global economic costs and benefits of mitigating desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) which are increasing in many parts of the world. The study was undertaken to prepare a framework for a global assessment and provide policymakers with evidence-based recommendations on how to deal with these environmental pressures.
It includes a literature review showing how global assessments of land degradation have advanced, particularly with the use of satellite imagery to assess vegetation land cover, and identifies underlying causes — including the institutions responsible for regulating drivers of land degradation.
The authors propose a total economic value approach, which takes into account the costs and benefits of ecosystem services — direct and indirect, in and outside the area assessed. They provide an assessment of existing knowledge and the costs of acting to mitigate DLDD, recommend a methodology for choosing geographic areas as case studies, and suggest partnerships required to conduct regional and global assessments.
Source: International Food Policy Research Institute | February 2011
This report gives an overview of the challenges facing many African countries that have renewed their commitment to agricultural research and development (R&D). It outlines levels of staffing and public spending on agricultural R&D, country-specific analyses on what drives R&D growth, and an overview of funding sources.
New data presented in the report show that public spending on agricultural R&D and capacity levels — such as infrastructure and agricultural researchers — have increased since the 1990s in Sub-Saharan Africa. But a handful of countries account for this trend, with many others still dependent on external funding.
This report outlines key areas that governments, donors and other stakeholders must address to improve prospects for agricultural R&D. These include decades of underinvestment, challenges in human resource capacity and regional cooperation.
This paper reports the results of a systematic review of the impacts of climate change on crop productivity in Africa and South Asia. The study, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), assessed eight food crops — rice, wheat, maize, sorghum, millet, cassava, yam, plantain and sugarcane — that make up more than 80 per cent of agricultural production in these regions. Its findings aim to inform DFID's policies, allocation of resources and other practices according to the need for a stronger focus on evidence-informed decision-making on agriculture in a changing climate. The report provides background information; a detailed account of the review protocol and methodology; the data extraction strategy; data collection; meta-analyses; a synthesis of results; and key findings for all crops organised by region. It recognises that climate change will worsen environmental conditions that already affect crops, such as heat, drought, salinity and submergence in water.
Source: UN Environment Programme | March 2010
This report synthesises data and published studies into water quality problems and potential solutions, highlighting successful attempts to prevent pollution, treat contaminated water, and protect ecosystems.
It gives an overview of major water contaminants, such as nutrients and trace metals, and describes human activities that affect water quality, including agriculture, industry and population growth. Additional sections outline the environmental, health and economic impacts of poor water quality.
Case studies from Europe, Latin America and South Asia are used to discuss ways of improving water quality. These are followed up by key recommendations for the international community, governments, communities and households.
They include using technologies for pollution prevention and wastewater treatment; strengthening legal guidelines for pollution prevention; ensuring that good data are available and monitoring is ongoing; and building capacity for effective interventions.
Source: International Livestock Research Institute | February 2011
This report highlights small-scale farmers who combine growing crops with raising animals. Although this farming system may appear old-fashioned, it remains the most prevalent and has gained popularity in recent years.
Most poor people currently rely on around one billion of these 'mixed' family farmers cultivating rice paddies and raising a few animals, for example. It is not big farms but these small agricultural systems that will play the biggest role in global food security over the next several decades, according to the report.
The study is the first to investigate mixed farms. It argues for a transition towards this farming system because it has a huge potential for increasing productivity in developing countries, provided that farms are managed appropriately.
The international donor community should fund and commit to policies that foster this neglected form of agriculture, it suggests, or their money will go to waste.
Source: Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) | November 2010
This background document presents scientific information on the effects of climate change on food production, and the implications for adaptation and mitigation efforts. It discusses how countries can manage the predicted average temperature rise of two degrees Celsius by 2100, which is enough to undermine farming systems. This will have major impacts on food security and rural poverty.
The report highlights two ways that countries can work towards adaptation. One is to better manage the agricultural risks of climate variability, for example using improved information services. The other is to speed up adaptation, with technological and policy tools for farmers.
It says that investing in technological innovation is needed to take full advantage of the agriculture sector's capacity to mitigate the impacts of climate change. This could include building monitoring systems for small-scale farmers.
Decision-makers and researchers working on climate, agriculture and food security should interact more to link knowledge with action, the report says.
Source: Pacific Institute and Ceres
This report, commissioned from the Pacific Institute by nongovernmental organisation Ceres, identifies and discusses the water-related risks in water intensive industries such as energy, mining, agriculture and pharmaceuticals. The authors discuss what companies can do to better evaluate and manage water risk and provide advice for potential investors.