Agriculture at a Crossroads - Business as Usual is Not an Option!

Why should 821 million people on our planet be going hungry while 1.9 billion are suffering from the ill effects of overweight and obesity? In 2017 more grain was harvested than ever before: 2.65 billion tons worldwide. Despite this record-breaking harvest, only 43% was used to feed people. The rest was used to feed livestock, fill our petrol tanks, support industrial production processes or was simply wasted. Our global food system is one of the most significant contributors to climate change, loss of biodiversity, pollution and water shortages as well as preventable disease, poverty and injustice.

On behalf of the United Nations and the World Bank, in a four-year-process, more than 400 scientists summarised the state of global agriculture, its history and its future. The outcome was the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). The findings are uncomfortable and alarming: providing a warning on the misleading ways of the past and showing new ways forward. This website makes the IAASTD’s findings available by topics, and offers all reports as well as updated figures, background information and news.

Brochure: IAASTD findings and recommendations for future farming

Business as usual is not an option, if we want to reduce hunger and poverty, improve rural livelihoods and achieve environmentally, socially and economically sustainable development for all. This was the message of the “International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development” (IAASTD). The new brochure “Agriculture at a Crossroads” presents the report’s main findings with updated facts and figures, charts and maps and the latest scientific insights. The 52-page-brochure covers topics such as hunger and health, meat and animal feed, industrial and small-scale farming, agroecology, climate and energy, soil fertility and land grabbing. It connects the IAASTD’s findings to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and contains an interview with IAASTD co-chair Hans Herren.
Download the brochure here.

IAASTD report calling for radical changes in agriculture turns ten

4/18: The way the world grows its food has to change radically to better serve the poor and hungry if we are to cope with a growing population and climate change while avoiding social breakdown and environmental collapse. That was the message of the press release published on April 15th 2008, announcing the adoption of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). On behalf of the UN and the World Bank, more than 400 scientists had summarised the state of global agriculture, its history and its future in a four-year-process. You can read the main messages of the report here.

Symposium: Scale-up agroecology to transform food systems

4/18: It is necessary to scale up agroecology in order to transform food and agricultural systems and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This was the message of the 2nd International Agroecology Symposium that was hosted by FAO in Rome. The event brought together more than 700 participants with representatives from 72 governments, around 350 civil society and other non-governmental groups, and six UN organisations. It builds on the first agroecology symposium held in 2014 at FAO, followed by a series of regional meetings, which highlighted the important role agroecology can play. Read more here

Agricultural intensification leads to biodiversity loss, IPBES warns

3/18: Biodiversity continues to decline in every region of the world, significantly reducing nature’s capacity to contribute to people’s well-being. This alarming trend endangers economies, livelihoods, food security and the quality of life of people everywhere, according to four landmark science reports written by more than 550 leading experts. The regional assessments, released by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), cover almost the entire planet. In Europe and Central Asia, land-use change is the main driver. Production-based subsidies have led to an intensification in agriculture and forestry, accelerating biodiversity loss. Read the summaries for policy makers and find out more about a new report on land degradation also released by IPBES.

We need to build healthier food systems, says IPES-Food

10/17: Industrial food and farming systems are taking a heavy toll on human health and the environment, leading food experts have warned. According to a report from the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), decisive action needs to be taken to build healthier food systems. The report found that many of the severest health conditions afflicting populations around the world are linked to industrial food and farming practices, such as chemical-intensive agriculture, concentrated livestock production, the mass production and marketing of ultra-processed foods, and deregulated global supply chains. The food experts therefore urge a reform of food and farming systems. Read the report here.

Two years into the SDGs: Goals for a world without hunger and poverty

9/17: September 25th marked the second anniversary of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In 2015, the 193 UN Member States adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a set of 169 targets that aim to end poverty and hunger in all their forms by 2030 while protecting the environment. Eliminating hunger is a key issue of the new post-2015 agenda. Goal 2 promises to „end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”. It contains targets on ending hunger and malnutrition by 2030, doubling the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale farmers, ensuring sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices, and maintaining the gentic diversity of seeds, plants and animals.

Earth's natural resources for 2017 already used up

8/17: August 2 marked Earth Overshoot Day this year – the day humanity has used up the natural resources Earth can regenerate in a year, according to data from Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability think tank. The date is calculated each year by contrasting the world’s demand on nature (ecological footprint) with the biocapacity - forests, pastures, cropland and fisheries as well as the planet’s ability to replenish resources and absorb waste, including emissions. More

Farming Matters: Food and the climate crisis

6/17: This last issue of Farming Matters addresses the intersection of agroecology, food sovereignty and the climate crisis. Climate change is a political problem that highlights the need for systemic change to the way food is produced, processed and distributed. From agroecological practices that build resilience, to social movements that resist land grabbing, the magazine articles not only argue for changes to the food system but demonstrate some possibilities. They involve challenging the corporate food system and putting agroecology and small scale farmers first again. Farming Matters presents how small scale farmers bear some of the biggest burdens brought about by the climate crisis, yet, the agroecology that many practice and the food sovereignty that many strive for provide a pathway to cool the planet and feed its people. Read more.

Now on DVD & streaming: Seed - The Untold Story

04/17: Few things on Earth are as miraculous and vital as seeds. Worshipped and treasured since the dawn of humankind. SEED: The Untold Story follows passionate seed keepers protecting our 12,000 year-old food legacy. In the last century, 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared. As biotech chemical companies control the majority of our seeds, farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers fight a David and Goliath battle to defend the future of our food. In a harrowing and heartening story, these reluctant heroes rekindle a lost connection to our most treasured resource and revive a culture connected to seeds. SEED features Vandana Shiva, Dr. Jane Goodall, Andrew Kimbrell, Winona Laduke and Raj Patel. Watch the trailer here.

New Landmatrix report shows scale of the global land rush

10/16: Since the year 2000, foreign investors have acquired 26.7 million hectares of land around the globe for agriculture, with Africa being the most affected continent. This means that around 2 per cent of the arable land worldwide, or roughly the equivalent to an area the size of the United Kingdom and Slovenia together, has been transferred into the hands of foreign investors. That is the message of a new report released by the Landmatrix, an independent initiative that collects and evaluates data on large-scale land acquisitions. The report can downloaded here.

If we were to divide the total global surface area of arable land by the number of people living on the planet, each person would get 2000m². It is on this piece of land that everything Mother Earth supplies you with must grow: wheat, rice, potatoes, fruit, vegetables, oil, sugar… not to mention all the animal feed that does not stem from meadows and pastures. Visit the website of this project to find out what your 2000m² would look like if they were to represent the global situation and to get a sense of your own role in global agriculture.

Read our summaries of the main topics:

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The original report

The original version of the full report, five regional reports and the Synthesis Report in English.


Donors of globalagriculture Bread for all biovision Bread for the World Misereor Heidehof Stiftung Hilfswerk der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz Rapunzel
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