The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) have a close relationship with all the aspect of food security. The SDGs is three years running but it is pertinent to understands how the 17 SDGs are inter-linked to issues of food security. Serah Odende, the Co-founder of African Harvesters explained the concepts of SDGs and agriculture as a means to end poverty, create better livelihood and build alternative farming procedures to cater for the growing population while increasing food demands.
Let’s take a moment to look at these goals and their inter-relationship with food security:
SDG GOAL 1: No Poverty – There are more than 750 million people in the world living in extreme poverty, out of which, about 80% of poor people lives in rural areas, particularly in the Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Eradicating poverty requires an inclusive food production systems and rapid economy growth along the agricultural value chain to create jobs and eliminate hunger in rural areas, thereby, giving people the opportunity to feed their families and live a decent life.
SDG GOAL 2: Zero Hunger – The goal is strictly focused on ending hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition through sustainable agricultural practices. Despite the effort to increase food production, millions still go to bed hungry while others are not having the desired food nutrition.
The rise in hunger index requires a concrete effort towards increasing food production by an estimated 50 percent by 2050 to meet the food demands of the growing world population.
Evidence from research shows that achieving food security requires an integrated approach that addresses all forms of malnutrition, production, environment, resilience of the food systems, sustainable use of biodiversity, genetic resources and incomes of small-scale food producers.
SDG GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being – Good health starts with good nutrition. Research studies have revealed that malnutrition is the single largest contributor to disease in the world.
Food safety, quality and nutritious food with good dietary guidelines helps in achieving and maintaining good health and personal well-being.
SDG GOAL 4: Quality Education – Nutritious food is critical to learning. Food is good for effective functionality of the body and the mind. Food aids in student concentration, learning and helps in building physical development. It has been proven by scientific publications that initiatives such as school gardens and school food programmes boosts school attendance and enhances nutrition.
SDG GOAL 5: Gender Equality – Women produce half of the world’s food production but have much less accessibility to land. According to FAO, women represents about half of the total agricultural labour force in most of the developing countries. Thus, overcoming the land ownership by women will help in increasing agricultural production and encourages more women and girls in agriculture to be bold for change.
SDG GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation – Agricultural activities accounts for 70% of the water use. Thus, sustainable agriculture has the potential to address issues surrounding water scarcity. Accessibility to good water as well as right PH for agricultural use are very important.
SDG GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy – Modern food systems are heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Reduction in greenhouse gases (GHG), adopting renewable energy for powering agricultural processes from farm to table including the agro-processing activities are important steps in achieving the SDG goal 7. There is need to deliver more energy smart food systems globally while ensuring food security.
SDG GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth – Inclusive agricultural growth in low-income economies can aids in poverty reduction. According to FAO, agriculture is the single largest employer of labour in the world. The sector employs about 60 percent of workers in less developed countries. Agricultural activities such as farm to table, farm to home, farm to wardrobe can help in tackling the unemployment challenges facing young people.
There are untapped reservoir of farm and non-farm employment opportunities in the agricultural value chains and other related economic sectors.
SDG GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure – Agriculture accounts for 1/4 of GDP in developing countries. Agriculture if explored using the evolving best practices, modern technologies and innovation, there would be revolutionary changes leading to sustainable industrialization, economic growth and reduction in rural-urban migration. However, this requires proper infrastructural planning and investments to ensure rural development and transformation and thus, expanding market accessibility and growth in the agricultural sector.
SDG GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality – Gender equality remains one of the most prominent issues of concern in different profession and industry including Agriculture but land reforms can give fairer access to rural land use. . Income inequality increased by 11 percent in developing countries between 1990 and 2010. Thus, the need to address inequality is important in order to increase food and nutrition security as well as reduce poverty.
In agriculture, addressing issues such as female land ownership, access to agricultural facilities such as finances, technology, inputs, training, services for women in agriculture are significant to scaling-up food production and addressing food insecurity challenges.
SDG GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities – By 2030, FAO projected that about 60% of the world’s population will live in urban area. This increase will place more pressure on the food production system since human survival depends on food consumption. Although, this rising food demands will accelerate factors such as fluctuating food prices, rising food insecurity, reduction in dietary quantity and quality would need to be addressed in the cities to accommodate urban resilience.
Rural investments are key considerations for deterring unmanageable urbanization. Moreover, implementing alternative farming procedures such as urban gardening, aquaponics, hydroponics, automation farming, urban farming, permaculture, and other advanced farming methods can be explore to feed the growing urban dwellers.
SDG GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production – FAO reported that 1.3 billion tonnes is lost or wasted out of the roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year. This calls for an urgent attention to put sustainability measures into agricultural practices and meticulously manage food production processes, storage and processing while reducing energy and other negative environmental impacts such as water loss, soil loss, nutrient loss, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Food Packaging should also consider the environment- plastics for food packaging, cutlery, cups, and plates should be reduced.
SDG GOAL 13: Climate Action – Climate remains one of the biggest threats to the food system. Agriculture and food production is greatly affected by climate change such as drought, rising sea level, ocean warming but the truth is, agriculture is key to responding to climate change and its threats. Sustainable Agriculture practices such as Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) are integral parts of mitigation and adaptability plan to combat climate change and also reducing greenhouse emissions.
SDG GOAL 14: Life Below Water – Statistics from FAO estimated that fish provides 20 percent of daily animal protein for 3 billion people and accounts for 17 percent of the global population’s intake of animal protein. Fisheries and aquaculture contributes significantly to nutrition, assist in reducing hunger while providing employment opportunities and economic growth.
SDG GOAL 15: Life on Land – Forest contains 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. Conversing the environment and the biodiversity remains an integral part of food production system. Activities such as deforestation, land degradation, soil erosion, decrease in clean water and carbon releases impact on livelihood opportunities, food chain system and also, affects valuable habitats.
SDG GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions – Ending hunger can contribute greatly to peace and stability. Countries affected by political instability, disasters and crises are notably far away from achieving food security. To attain food security in most conflict prone regions, it is important to address the causes of conflict, particularly in rural areas where farming activities are well pronounced. Hence, the concept of peace and food security is a good approach to achieving a better world.
SDG GOAL 17: Partnerships to Achieve the Goal – Partnerships are significant steps in implementing and tracking the SDG indicators. Partnership helps in raising voices and efforts for achieving common goals. It involves different stakeholders such as government, private sectors, donor agencies, civil societal organizations, research institutions, philanthropists, think tankers and host of others, playing active roles in the economies of the world.
Partnership is also important in disseminating information to stakeholders on the progress of food security, nutrition and sustainability. A good example of partnership is the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, where a multi-stakeholder approach is deployed to develop and endorse policy and recommendations on a wide range of food security and nutrition issues.
To know more about the 17 sustainable development goals of the United Nation, visit the dedicated SDGs page here