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Renewable Natural Resources Foundation

2017 award announcements

RNRF congratulates the winners of its annual awards in Sustained Achievement, Outstanding Achievement, and Excellence in Journalism. The awards will be presented at the annual meeting of the RNRF Board of Directors in Potomac, Maryland, on November 15, 2017.

rattan lal Is the recipient of the sustained achievement award

LalDr. Rattan Lal is the recipient of RNRF's 2017 Sustained Achievement Award. The award recognizes a long-term contribution and commitment to the protection and conservation of natural resources by an individual.

During his 50-year career, Lal studied sustainable intensification and climate-resilience of agroecosystems, working to advance global food and nutritional security through soil health management, carbon sequestration, and erosion control.

Lal has advanced soil resources science through his extensive accomplishments as a researcher and mentor. He has written 818 journal articles, 485 book chapters, 16 books, and has given 425 keynote presentations on the sustainable management of world soils. In addition to teaching two classes at Ohio State University, he has mentored 106 graduate students, 55 post-doctoral researchers, and 156 visiting scholars from around the world.

Lal has promoted the application of sound scientific practices to soil research and policy over the years by serving as lead author of the Special Report of IPCC on Land Use, Land Change and Forestry (2000), as science advisor to the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, to initiate the Global Soil Week (2010-2015), and as Chair of Advisory Board of UNU-FLORES, in Dresden, Germany. He has worked with the U.S. Senate to approve Soil Resolution 208 (2008) and has witnessed six congressional hearings (2000s) regarding soil resources and carbon sequestration. Furthermore, Lal has worked with several heads of state, including the President of Bangladesh (2007-2008), the President of Iceland (2006-2010), Vice President Al Gore (2010-2015), the former Secretary of the Environment of Germany (2010-2015) and the French Minister of Agriculture (2015) to help translate soil science to actionable policies.

Lal is currently a Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science at Ohio State University and serves as the president of the International Union of Soil Sciences, representing 60,000 scientists.

Lal holds a B.Sc. in agriculture from Punjab Agricultural University, a M.Sc. in soil science from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, and a Ph.D. in soil science from Ohio State University.

usa national phenology network's "start of spring maps and access tools" is recipient of outstanding achievement award


The USA National Phenology Network's (USA-NPN) Start of Spring Maps and Access Tools is the recipient of RNRF's 2017 Outstanding Achievement Award. This award recognizes a project, publication, piece of legislation, or similar concrete accomplishment in the natural resources field.

USA-NPN is a national-scale science and monitoring initiative focused on phenology – the study of seasonal life-cycle events such as leafing, flowering, reproduction and migration – as an approach to better understand how plants, animals, and landscapes respond to environmental variation and change. Their objective is to collect, organize and distribute phenological data, data products and information. The data is distributed to stakeholders who make decisions about resource management and societal adaptation to variable and changing climates and environments.

In early 2017, USA-NPN released two new data products that describe and forecast the biological start of spring across the nation: daily maps of the onset of spring and of accumulated growing degree days. To enable a wide range of users to explore and to access these products, USA-NPN enhanced its existing online data visualization tool to enable all map layers to be viewed either alone or in concert with ground-based plant or animal observational data. The USA-NPN website was further updated to provide daily maps, graphical summaries and non-technical interpretation to increase accessibility to the public.

These products fill gaps in the availability of phenological information at national scales, and are delivered with spatial (kilometer) and temporal (daily) resolution that can support informed natural resource management decision-making while advancing natural resource science and broadly informing and engaging the public.

More information about USA-NPN's Start of Spring project is available at the

anthropocene magazine is recipient of excellence in journalism award

AnthropoceneAnthropocene magazine, published by Future Earth, is the recipient of RNRF's 2017 Excellence in Journalism Award. The award honors and encourages excellence in print journalism about natural resources, part of RNRF's goal to advance public education and understanding of important natural resources issues through the dissemination of accurate and scientifically-based information about the environment.

Anthropocene is a digital and print magazine that brings together writers, designers, scientists, and entrepreneurs to investigate innovative solutions to environmental and development challenges and craft in-depth stories about the people and technologies behind those innovations.

The magazine's mission is to curate a global conversation about data, technology, and innovation that can lead to solutions to persistent environmental challenges. The editors of Anthropocene aim to build a thought-leading publication for the sustainability and development world.

Anthropocene is an initiative of research platform Future Earth, and will be built in partnership with the Future Earth Media Lab based at the Stockholm Resilience Center. The first issue launched in October 2016 at the UN Habitat III Summit in Quito, Ecuador. The second is due out in August 2017.

The inaugural issue featured insightful articles and an engaging overall design which complemented the magazine's overarching mission and editorial concept.

More information about Anthropocene magazine can be found at


Goldston The RNRF Washington Round Table on Public Policy met with David Goldston, director, Washington Office, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on July 19, 2017. Goldston spoke about how universities can most effectively engage with policymakers about scientific information relevant to complex public policy challenges. He also spoke about strategies for advancing funding and the application of science in the current, unprecedented political environment.

Goldston became director of the MIT Washington Office in May 2017. Prior to that for eight years, he was director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a leading environmental group where he helped shape NRDC's federal political strategy, policies, and communications. Before his time at NRDC he spent more than 20 years on Capitol Hill, working primarily on science and environmental policy, including serving as chief-of-staff of the U.S. House Committee on Science from 2001 through 2006.

After retiring from government service, Goldston was a visiting lecturer at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and at Harvard University Center for the Environment. He is currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. He holds a B.A. (1978) from Cornell University and completed course work for a Ph.D. in American history at the University of Pennsylvania.



PandyaAmber Lee Todoroff of Venice, Florida has joined RNRF's staff as program manager. She is a 2015 summa cum     laude graduate of the University of Florida with a B.A. in geography and English, and a minor in sustainability studies. She received an M.Sc. in nature, society and environmental governance from Oxford University (UK) on full scholarship in 2016. Todoroff has worked as a researcher at the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford, interned at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi (satellite wildfire detection), worked as a NSF Fellowship researcher at Clark University (invasive insect disaster response policy), and a NSF Fellowship researcher at the University of Northern Iowa (remote sensing methods to assess impacts on arctic tundra).

Todoroff works with RNRF committees in developing and implementing programs such as public policy conferences, congressional forums, RNRF's Washington Round Table on Public Policy, and the annual awards program. She also has editorial responsibilities for the Renewable Resources Journal, The Renewable Resources Report (RNRF's blog) and RNRF's website.

RNRF Leaders Discuss Advocating for Science

The American Society of Landscape Architects hosted the Spring Meeting of RNRF leaders and guests on May 12, to discuss their recent activities to sustain and strengthen the use of science to inform public policy and management. While specific organizational activities varied, all focused on improving communications within the scientific and professional community, and improving outreach to and among scientists, government officials, congressional members and the public. Everyone observed that their organizations' ASLAindividual members had been supportive of efforts to advocate for science, design and management in furtherance of sustainability practices and goals.

Participating were: Joanne Carney (American Association for the Advancement of Science), Tom Chase (American Society of Civil Engineers), Robert Day (RNRF), Lisa Engelman (American Water Resources Association), Paul Higgins (American Meteorological Society), Nicolas Kozak (RNRF), Lu Gay Lanier (American Society of Landscape Architects), Howard Rosen (Society of Wood Science and Technology), Nancy Somerville (American Society of Landscape Architects), Barry Starke (Public Interest Member of the RNRF Board), Kasey White (Geological Society of America), and ASLA staff member Mark Cason.

Rajul (Raj) Pandya Joins RNRF Board of Directors

PandyaRajul Pandya has joined the board as AGU's representative. Pandya is the director of the American Geophysical Union's Thriving Earth Exchange, which connects scientists, communities, and sponsors and helps them work together to develop solutions that have local impact and global implications. Prior to working with AGU, Pandya worked as the director of Spark: Education and Outreach and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Spark built exhibits, developed curriculum, and offered research experiences for students, teachers, and members of the public. All programs were related to climate and weather.

Pandya has managed internships and mentored students, taught in college and high school, collaborated with diverse communities internationally and in the U.S., and worked on educational technology. He has led multi-disciplinary efforts to increase diversity in the sciences, manage meningitis vaccines more effectively in Africa, and improve student learning of weather and climate.

Pandya is a founding member of the board of the Citizen Science Association, a new member of the board for Public Lab, and chair of the National Academies study committee on "Designing Citizen Science to Support Science Learning." He holds a Ph.D. from University of Washington in atmospheric science.

American Geophysical Union

AGU Releases New Position Statement on the Responsibilities and Rights of Scientists

Scientific research in Earth and space sciences advances our understanding of our world and contributes to strong global economies, security, and public health and safety. AGU announced a newly adopted position statement, "The Responsibilities and Rights of Scientists," acknowledging that scientists have certain "rights and responsibilities that must be followed individually and defended universally."

The statement charges all scientists with three key responsibilities: demonstrating excellence in research conduct; adhering to the highest professional ethics and integrity; and supporting a diverse, inclusive environment. In turn, all scientists have the right to conduct science without fear of retaliation; to collaborate with others independent of political opinion or affiliation; and to freely and openly communicate their findings, protect data, and respond to inaccurate portrayals or usage of science. The statement asserts that "the free, open, and responsible practice of science is fundamental to scientific advancement for both human and environmental well-being."

"The scientific profession makes enormous contributions to human health, economic prosperity, and environmental sustainability," said Eric Davidson, AGU president. "With that public-interest role comes great responsibility. This position statement acknowledges not only the importance of scientific excellence and integrity, but also the challenges of cultivating inclusivity, diversity, and safety throughout our profession. Finally, it articulates the essential rights of scientists to freely and openly exchange ideas in their pursuits and communications of knowledge."

The new position statement was adopted by AGU's Board and Council on April 13, 2017, and was originally proposed in early 2016.  It was developed by a panel of AGU members and was open for comments and review by the entire AGU membership in October 2016.

AGU is also currently in the process of updating its ethics policy to provide the best guidance for scientists and members. The new position statement supplements both the forthcoming ethics policy as well as second existing statement, "AGU Supports Free and Open Communication of Scientific Findings."

As an organization committed to promoting discovery in Earth and space science for the benefit of humanity, AGU develops and maintains position statements to provide scientific expertise on significant policy issues related to the understanding and application of the Earth and space sciences.

Learn more about AGU position statements.

World's Largest Earth and Space Science Meeting to Take Place in New Orleans, then Washington, D.C.

AGU has announced that its annual Fall Meeting, an event that regularly attracts more than 25,000 Earth and space scientists and other participants from around the world, will move to New Orleans in 2017 and to Washington, D.C. in 2018.

For nearly 50 years, the AGU Fall Meeting has been held in San Francisco. During that time, it has grown from a gathering of a few hundred researchers to the largest Earth and space science event in the world. In 2015, it included more than 23,000 poster and oral presentations; hundreds of networking, education and social events; lectures from prominent speakers like Elon Musk and Dr. France Cordova, director of the National Science Foundation; and the launch of a new XPRIZE for ocean discovery. Construction associated with a major renovation of San Francisco's Moscone Center that would impact needed space for the meeting prompted the move.

"The Fall Meeting is a major force in advancing the Earth and space sciences. If you look back over the last 50 years, the number of discoveries that were first reported during one of our sessions or in our poster hall is staggering," said AGU's Executive Director/CEO Christine McEntee. "Maintaining that level of excellence is a significant responsibility for AGU, and we are committed to finding new and innovative ways to help our attendees share their science with one another and with the world. I believe the opportunities that await us in New Orleans and Washington will contribute greatly to the achievement of that goal."

This world-renowned event draws scientists from around the globe and across the spectrum of the Earth and space sciences, including areas such as hydrology, climate science, ocean research, space physics, planetary science, seismology, tectonophysics, volcanology, atmospheric science and Earth and space science informatics. Attendees come from academia and the public and private sectors, and typically represent nearly 100 different countries. In 2015, more than 7,600 students attended the meeting. The event also draws hundreds of exhibitors and vendors, ranging from equipment manufacturers and technology companies, to academic institutions and government agencies.

The meeting will remain in San Francisco in 2016, and plans are underway to return to the City by the Bay, in 2019 when AGU hopes to celebrate its Centennial in the newly renovated Moscone Center.

For more information contact AGU, 2000 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009; (202) 462-6900,

American Meteorological Society

geoscience day on capital hill

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) Policy Program seeks volunteers with relevant expertise for a Congressional Visit Day (CVD) focused on geosciences. Participants for the CVD will be selected based on area of expertise, geographic location of residence, and future potential to contribute to the federal policy process, among other factors.

The AMS encourages all participants to check with their home institutions before engaging with Congress. Employees of federal agencies are typically allowed to participate on their own time and as individuals.

The purpose of the events are 1) to give scientists an opportunity to learn about congress, 2) to build relationships between scientists and Congressional offices, and 3) to help ensure that Members of Congress and their staff have access to the best available scientific information relating to weather, water and climate. This AMS Policy Program event is non-partisan. Information provided to Congressional offices will be policy relevant but not policy prescriptive.

A mandatory training session will take place on Tuesday afternoon, September 12 in Washington, DC. The Hill meetings will take place Wednesday, September 13 from about 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, with exact schedules to be provided just prior to the event.

Please send an email to including your name, email address, job title, organization, address of residence (to determine Congressional district), and a short biography (no more than 200 words). The application deadline is August 17, 2017.

Please contact Kenza Sidi-Ali-Cherif at with any questions.

American Society of Civil Engineers

ASCE's Infrastructure Report Card: Another D-plus, but Solutions Available

ASCE's 2017 Infrastructure report card offers the nation both bad news and good news.

The bad is the average grade, D-plus, has not changed since the last report card four years ago, reflecting a continued dire need of overhaul.

The good news is the report card says such an overhaul is still attainable, and offers suggested solutions that can make that overhaul happen.

While the overall infrastructure grade remains unchanged since 2013, seven of the 16 infrastructure categories assessed did see improvement: hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, ports, rail, schools, and wastewater.

Rail received the highest category grade–earning a B. Transit, meanwhile, received the lowest, a D-minus.

A team of 28 civil engineers from across the country with decades of expertise in all 16 categories prepared the report card. ASCE's Committee on America's Infrastructure amassed and assessed all relevant data and reports, consulting with technical and industry experts, and assigning grades using the following criteria: capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation.

The Infrastructure report card recommends three key steps toward raising the grades. Greg DiLoreto, former ASCE president and current chair of the CAI team that assembled the report card laid out the solutions at the release event: "… We are underfunded in our infrastructure, so the No. 1 solution is that we have to increase our investment in infrastructure, and we have to do that at all levels. At the federal, at the state, and at the local level. It has to be increased."

"Secondly, we again need leadership and planning in doing this. Those increases are going to be as a result of an actual enactment of legislation to create those. So we need our elected officials to be leaders and say, 'This is really important,' and we need the American public to say, 'This is important.'

"Finally, we have to look at how we do these projects as engineers. We need to build them sustainably, and we need to build them resilient. We need to look at the total life of that project, from the day we put a shovel in the ground until the day we retire that project–a cradle-to-grave approach in how we do this."

Investment, leadership, preparation for the future. Each is intertwined to the other, but it all starts with money. As former Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell said during the release event's panel discussion, "The key is investment, there's no getting around it." ASCE estimates that the nation's infrastructure needs a total of $2 trillion across the 16 categories through 2025. The report card estimates that a failure to do so, what Rendell called "the cost of doing nothing," would cause a $3.9 trillion hit to the gross domestic product by 2025, $7 trillion in lost business sales by 2025, and 2.5 million lost jobs by 2025.

For more information, contact ASCE, 1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Reston, VA 20191; (800) 548-2723,

American Society of Landscape Architects

ASLA Named to List of Professional Societies Most Engaged on Climate Issues

The American Society of Landscape Architects is one of nine exemplar organizations exhibiting the most comprehensive approaches to educating and engaging their members on climate issues, according to a report released by the Kresge Foundation.

The Kresge report, "Professional Societies and Climate Change," analyzes how professional societies are helping their members integrate climate change into their thinking and decision making. Researchers found that the professional societies most engaged on climate issues recognize the substantial impacts that climate change will have on their missions and membership.

ASLA has identified climate change as a key issue for its members, according to ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA.

"ASLA is honored to be recognized by the Kresge Foundation," said Somerville. "Most landscape architects acknowledge the reality of climate change, and as a result their work helps make communities more resilient and better able to recover from disruptive climate events."

The Society provides substantial climate mitigation resources, including a policy statement on climate change and a code of environmental ethics; a Professional Practice Network focused on Sustainable Design and Development; a webpage on combating climate change with numerous mitigation-related resources; a resource guide on increasing energy efficiency and an energy efficient home landscapes animation. Various articles in Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM) and ASLA's blog "The Dirt" are related to mitigation, such as a 2014 post on "How to create a climate change mitigation and adaptation plan." In addition, a working group was formed to provide input on model codes within ASHRAE 189.1 "Standards for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings" specific to site sustainability and water use.

Climate adaption resources developed by ASLA includes a webpage on combating climate change; resource centers for critical issues like storm water; resource guides on topics like green infrastructure, livable communities and sustainable transportation; and a new Guide to Resilient Design.

ASLA works with educators and schools through the Council of Educators of Landscape Architecture. ASLA's "Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System" (LACES™) has offered courses on adaptation, such as the 2012 "Landscape Systems, Urban Heat Island, and Climate Change: a landscape architecture approach to adapt." The Society helped to develop The Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES®), a rating system for the sustainable design, construction and maintenance of landscapes now owned by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI).

The Society is also engaged in political advocacy and public education on the topic of resilience and social justice. It will convene an interdisciplinary blue ribbon task force later this year to develop climate change and resilience related public policy recommendations.

The report was authored by independent climate adaptation consultant Dr. Missy Stults and Ph.D. researcher and consultant Sara Meerow.

For more information contact ASLA, 636 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001; (202) 898-244,

American Water Resources Association

Position Statement on Flood and Drought Approved by AWRA Board on January 27-28, 2017

Position Statement: In recognition that flood and drought frequently occur at great cost to society, AWRA recommends that communities overall—as well as mayors, city councils, and legislatures specifically—prepare themselves for these events.

AWRA recommends that negative impacts are best mitigated by integrated preparation for both flood and drought events. Such preparations include:

Develop and/or Strengthen Partnerships.
Establish or Enhance:

• coordination between public agencies and researchers to gather and process information and to ensure the results are publicly available and used to enhance public awareness;
• partnerships between actors with roles in mitigation, response, and recovery; and
• frameworks for engaging new sectors, such as public health or finance, during integrated preparation for management of extreme flows.

Information Gathering and Synthesis. Determine:
• the extent to which every community is vulnerable and how;
• which hydrometeorologic, hydrologic, hydraulic, or other conditions indicate differing stages of emergency;
• the historic location of impact by floods or droughts, and how changes in land use or land cover in watersheds including upstream impervious surface and geomorphology may change the location, strength or duration of floods or droughts, floodways, and flood discharge;
• what are the past and future economic, social, environmental, and other impacts of these events; and
• what new extremes may be expected based upon the best available climate science and where these are most likely to have special effect.

Designing Resiliency into Community Planning.

• alternate and redundant sources of water through use of conservation, water treatment, development and other strategies;
• regional technical support for small municipalities; and
• innovation in adopting and implementing policies, procedures, regulations, and zoning that allow flexibility while protecting human health, social systems, economic systems, the built environment, and natural systems, including floodplains, wetlands, and upland forested areas.

Communication and Education. Encourage:

• education of flood and drought risk at primary and secondary educational institutions, as well as to the general public;
• financial institutions to engage stakeholders as to risk and incentives;
• simulation training for emergency managers and first responders; and
• the use of procedures and communication avenues to coordinate emergency managers and public information prior and during an extreme event.

For more information contact AWRA, P.O. Box 1626, Middleburg, VA 20118; (540) 687-8390,

Geological Society of America

GSA Statement on Paris Climate agreement withdrawal

Boulder, CO, USA: The Geological Society of America affirms its position (adopted 2006 and revised 2010, 2013 and 2015) that human activities, particularly greenhouse gas emissions, are the dominant cause of recent global warming. We encourage GSA members and policymakers to support the development and execution of comprehensive mitigation and adaptation strategies to address climate change drivers and impacts in the short-, medium-, and long-term.

While strategies must be pursued at the local, state, and national levels, global warming and climate change impacts are of global scope and concern. The Paris Climate Agreement provides a framework for an international effort to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and to develop mitigation and adaptation strategies which recognize the real and present impacts of climate change.

The withdrawal of the US from the Paris Climate Agreement does not negate the need, or indeed the obligation, of our nation's leaders to concurrently pursue the research and actions necessary to mitigate the high impact of rapid climate change to human and natural systems across the US and the globe.

For more information visit here or contact Christa Stratton, Director- GSA Communications & Marketing; (303)-357-1093

Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

Meeting on Risk Assessment of Chemical Mixtures

SETAC North America will be holding a meeting on the "Risk Assessment of Chemical Mixtures: From Scientific Evidence to Environmental Regulation"

Understanding the joint toxicity of complex chemical exposures is essential in protecting the environment and public health. Chemical management initiatives across the globe have prompted the need for sound science supporting oversight of chemical mixtures in the environment.

This SETAC North America Focus Topic Meeting on Risk Assessment of Chemical Mixtures will provide information on the latest advancements in fundamental and applied research that enable risk managers to make sound decisions. SETAC welcomes contributions addressing all chemical classes, exposure scenarios, biological levels of organization and facets of the risk assessment paradigm.

The meeting will be held from September 6-8, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado.

For more information, visit or contact SETAC, 229 S. Baylen Street, Pensacola, FL 32502; (850) 469-1500,

Society of Wood Science and Technology

2017 COST Action fp1407 conference

SWST is co-hosting the 3rd conference of the COST Action FP1407, entitled "Wood Modification and Research Applications," which will take place from September 14-15, 2017 at the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences in Kuchl, Austria .

The conference will focus on presenting innovative materials and process developments for various wood modification technologies, ecologic solutions and further related challenges with the focus of improving the properties of timber to guarantee a more sustainable usage of wood. Special emphasis will be given to innovative bio-friendly wood protection techniques and preservatives.

The conference committee is also open to accept a variety of contributions with the target objective in line with "green" principles and with particular interest for studies that deal with timber quality enhancements.

The registration deadline for the conference is August 16th, and interested participants can register here.

For more information contact Gianluca Tondi at

International News

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

World's Future Food Security "In Jeopardy" Due to Multiple Challenges, Report Warns

Mankind's future ability to feed itself is in jeopardy due to intensifying pressures on natural resources, mounting inequality, and the fallout from a changing climate, warns a new FAO report.

Though very real and significant progress in reducing global hunger has been achieved over the past 30 years, "expanding food production and economic growth have often come at a heavy cost to the natural environment," says "The Future of Food and Agriculture: Trends and Challenges."

"Almost one-half of the forests that once covered the Earth are now gone. Groundwater sources are being depleted rapidly. Biodiversity has been deeply eroded," it notes.

As a result, "planetary boundaries may well be surpassed, if current trends continue," cautions FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva in his introduction to the report.

By 2050 humanity's ranks will likely have grown to nearly 10 billion people. In a scenario with moderate economic growth, this population increase will push up global demand for agricultural products by 50 percent over present levels projects "The Future of Food and Agriculture," intensifying pressures on already-strained natural resources.

At the same time, greater numbers of people will be eating fewer cereals and larger amounts of meat, fruits, vegetables and processed food—a result of an ongoing global dietary transition that will further add to those pressures, driving more deforestation, land degradation, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Alongside these trends, the planet's changing climate will throw up additional hurdles. "Climate change will affect every aspect of food production," the report says. These include greater variability of precipitation and increases in the frequency of droughts and floods.

To reach zero hunger, we need to step up our efforts

The core question raised by this FAO publication is whether, looking ahead, the world's agriculture and food systems are capable of sustainably meeting the needs of a burgeoning global population?

The short answer? Yes, the planet's food systems are capable of producing enough food to do so, and in a sustainable way, but unlocking that potential—and ensuring that all of humanity benefits—will require "major transformations."

Without a push to invest in and retool food systems, far too many people will still be hungry in 2030—the year by which the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda has targeted the eradication of chronic food insecurity and malnutrition, the report warns.

"Without additional efforts to promote pro-poor development, reduce inequalities and protect vulnerable people, more than 600 million people would still be undernourished in 2030," it says. In fact, the current rate of progress would not even be enough to eradicate hunger by 2050.

Where will our food come from?

Given the limited scope for expanding agriculture's use of more land and water resources, the production increases needed to meet rising food demand will have to come mainly from  improvements in productivity and resource-use efficiency.

However, there are worrying signs that yield growth is leveling off for major crops. Since the 1990s, average increases in the yields of maize, rice, and wheat at the global level generally run just over 1 percent per annum, the report notes.

To tackle these and the other challenges outlined in the report, "business-as-usual" is not an option, "The Future of Food and Agriculture" argues.
"Major transformations in agricultural systems, rural economies and natural resource management will be needed if we are to meet the multiple challenges before us and realize the full potential of food and agriculture to ensure a secure and healthy future for all people and the entire planet," it says.

"High-input, resource-intensive farming systems, which have caused massive deforestation, water scarcities, soil depletion and high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, cannot deliver sustainable food and agricultural production," adds the report.

More with less

The core challenge is to produce more with less, while preserving and enhancing the livelihoods of small-scale and family farmers, and ensuring access to food by the most vulnerable. For this, a twin-track approach is needed which combines investment in social protection, to immediately tackle undernourishment, and pro-poor investments in productive activities—especially agriculture and in rural economies—to sustainably increase income-earning opportunities of the poor.

The world will need to shift to more sustainable food systems which make more efficient use of land, water and other inputs and sharply reduce their use of fossil fuels, leading to a drastic cut of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, greater conservation of biodiversity, and a reduction of waste. This will necessitate more investment in agriculture and agrifood systems, as well as greater spending on research and development, the report says, to promote innovation, support sustainable production increases, and find better ways to cope with issues like water scarcity and climate change.

Along with boosting production and resilience, equally critical will be creating food supply chains that better connect farmers in low- and middle-income countries to urban markets—along with measures which ensure access for consumers to nutritious and safe food at affordable prices, such as pricing policies and social protection programs, it says.

For more information, and to download the report, visit

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