Knowledge for a sustainable world

‘End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’ reads Sustainable Development Goal number 2, succinctly abbreviated to ‘zero hunger’. A new initiative aims to address SDG2 through improving the coordination of policies, programmes and funding mechanisms aimed at enhancing food and nutrition security in a sustainable manner. To do this, 35 organisations from Europe and Africa are creating a platform to better coordinate research and innovation efforts. NRI’s Dr Tim Chancellor and Professor Adrienne Martin are helping to take forward this highly strategic initiative.

With a growing global population, the need to produce more food is ever present. For decades, unsustainable farming practices have produced myriad negative impacts on the environment. How can we increase agricultural productivity for an adequate food supply while conserving the environment? This is the central question in an Inaugural Professorial Lecture to be given by NRI’s Professor Jeremy Haggar on Wednesday 20th March 2019 at the University of Greenwich’s Medway campus.

Like with the current Spice Girls t-shirts, ‘irresponsible business’ hits the headlines when working conditions in factories making products for high-profile brands are revealed. Over the years, details have emerged of workers in developing countries who are under-age or overworked, underpaid and operating in unsafe or dangerous working conditions and of companies that pollute the environment or have negative effects on local communities. Making business more responsible has the potential to have a huge positive impact on everyone, especially the millions of poor workers and communities whose lives are directly affected by business. But while many global companies and investors are increasingly concerned about sustainability issues, there are systemic challenges and major sustainability issues in all sectors – from apparel to agriculture, electronics and mining. NRI has been researching if and how companies can become responsible.

Better nutrition for a growing population is a major challenge of our time. However, to improve nutrition, more understanding is needed of patterns of consumption, dietary practices and food systems. By improving standards for collecting and measuring data and developing innovative methodologies for evaluating agriculture and food systems, scientists will be able to build a robust evidence base, which in turn will guide actions to improve nutrition.

Increasing agricultural productivity is essential to feeding a fast-growing population and has the potential to lift rural families out of poverty. Sustainable Agricultural Intensification (SAI) provides the means to do this with limited available resources, while protecting our living environment and conserving natural and agricultural biodiversity.

NRI has been working to reduce losses and waste after harvest since the food crisis of the 1970s.

Responding to climate change is one of the most urgent challenges facing humankind. The most severe impacts are likely to be suffered by the poorest and most vulnerable in society who live in more fragile environments and have the least resources to adapt and recover.