Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Innovations to nourish the planet

Worldwatch Institute's State of the World 2011 report "Innovations that Nourish The Planet" was recently launched in NY. The topic is more crucial than ever in an era where innovations in sustainable agriculture are increasingly needed to feed the world's population.

A couple of important remarks from the report that caught my attention:
  • The potential of urban agriculture in improving urban food security and alleviating global hunger and poverty - especially in rapidly urbanizing parts of the world such as Africa.
  • A huge proportion of the food produced today - approximately 40% of the food produced worldwide - is wasted, while 1 in 6 remains hungry.
  •  The current economic crisis offers a window of opportunity for refocusing the world’s attention on food, agriculture, and rural areas and for reestablishing food security as a global priority.
  • Eliminating hunger will not depend on the world’s ability to produce more food.
  • For many communities, the solution lies in making better use of the food that is already produced.
  • Agriculture is emerging as a solution to mitigating climate change, reducing public health problems, making cities more livable, and creating jobs in a stagnant global economy.

According to the report, ecoagriculture aims to satisfy multiple social, ecological, and economic objectives. This is definitely true and applies to many solutions designed to solve problems related to food production and distribution. The greatest innovations in sustainability are those that are able tackle multiple problems at once: most probably problems that are closely intertwined already, but perhaps even problems that no not have any correlation between them.

FoodCycle from UK is a great innovation benchmark that successfully tackles problems such as youth employment, wasted food and poverty at once, they empower local communities to set up groups of volunteers to collect surplus produce locally and prepare nutritious meals in unused professional kitchen spaces. These delicious meals are then served to those in need in the community.

There is a plenty of room for groundbreaking innovations regarding both local and global production and distribution of food. As the Worldwatch report puts it, the solution lies in making better use of the food that is already produced, which, as Foodcycle example shows us, could at the same time tackle other social problems such as unemployment.

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