How are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to global food systems?

#CHFoodFuture warmup – session 1

Burning questions on global food security will be addressed next week at the conference A Sustainable Future: production supply and consumption at Chatham House, London. I am thrilled to be attending and thankful to Chatham House for their support. The entire event is divided into five sessions and each could be a conference in itself. That’s why it’s important to warmup and enter the right mindset before the event begins next Monday 7th December 2015. To help do that, each day this week I will post an entry discussing each session of the event.

Photo credit: Lisa Delgado Castillo, used with permission

Session 1 – Sustainable Development Goals: Towards 2030

sustainable-development-goals-infographic-un-1024x576 The questions this section will address are:

  1. What are the implications of the Sustainable Development Goals on the global food system?
  2. What are the biggest challenges in meeting the goals, be they political, environmental, technical or operational?
  3. How might policy mechanisms be used to achieve sustainable food systems, food security and nutrition at global level? What is the role for national and international actors?
  4. How can the private sector be encouraged to bear responsibility for developing a sustainable system? Are public-private partnerships the right approach, and if so, how can they be fostered?

Important concepts to understand are the Sustainable Development Goals. Although some of them have an explicit relationship to global food systems (e.g. goal 2: zero hunger, goal 6: clean water and sanitation, goal 13: climate action, goal 14: life below water and goal 15: life on land), all them can be linked in one way or another. An inefficient food system leads to hunger and contributes to poverty (goal 1), in several ways including contributing to low productivity. A broken global food system, gets in the way of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for everyone because nutrition is a fundamental component of human life. Children suffering from malnutrition will most likely do poorly in school, this is contrary to ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all (goal 4).


Guaranteeing women are empowered in agriculture, since we play such important roles in the availability access and utilisation of food, is essential in a healthy global food system (goal 5). Work and economic growth depend on the well-being of workers, global food systems have, again, the responsibility to provide that well-being (goal 6). Roads to transport goods to markets, warehouses for storage, dry and sheltered areas to store post harvest, machines for threshing, communication systems for understanding market prices and weather forecasting are all examples of infrastructure global food systems rely on (goal 9). Inequalities are worsened by hunger (goal 10). 70% of the population is expected to live in cities; food systems will have to supply enough calories and nutrients for all (goal 11). Managing shifting diets in emerging countries is a challenge with their increasing demand for dairy and meat, because of implications on water availability, energy requirements and the use of cereals to feed livestock instead of humans (goal 12). Hungry societies will never be peaceful (goal 16) and creating efficient, inclusive and healthy global food systems is an international responsibility (goal 17).

The keynote speaker for the session is Dr Kanayo Nwanze, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).


Because this event will be held on the same dates as the global climate change discussions at COP 21 in Paris, I expect that climate change will play a big role in the event’s discussions. See you tomorrow for session 2.




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