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Cistulli V.,UN FAO | Escobar G.,Latin American Center for Rural Development | Marta S.,UN FAO | Schejtman A.,Latin American Center for Rural Development
Food Security | Year: 2014

This paper argues that a territorial approach provides an effective analytical framework to address the structural and emerging issues of food security and nutrition (FSN), including widening within-country inequalities and disparities, in so far as they allow the exploration of the multi-dimensional, multi-actor and multi-level nature of FSN. By recognizing the diversity of territories and their distinct capacity to react to shocks (external and internal), a territorial approach is also suitable for tackling the sources of inequality. This involves putting local institutions at the forefront of the battle against FSN problems in order to ensure the achievement of the triple objective of equity, economic efficiency and environmental sustainability. The paper acknowledges that following a territorial approach is complex and often connected to a number of prerequisites that are sometimes not available in developing countries. These include efficient governance systems, access to information, and capacities of actors, organizations and institutions at all levels. Notwithstanding this, our examples indicate that the chances of success of territorial approaches in developing countries are not necessarily lower than for other countries, if appropriate actions are taken. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology.

Pretty J.,University of Essex | Sutherland W.J.,University of Cambridge | Ashby J.,International Center for Tropical Agriculture | Auburn J.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | And 53 more authors.
International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability | Year: 2010

Despite a significant growth in food production over the past half-century, one of the most important challenges facing society today is how to feed an expected population of some nine billion by the middle of the 20th century. To meet the expected demand for food without significant increases in prices, it has been estimated that we need to produce 70-100 per cent more food, in light of the growing impacts of climate change, concerns over energy security, regional dietary shifts and the Millennium Development target of halving world poverty and hunger by 2015. The goal for the agricultural sector is no longer simply to maximize productivity, but to optimize across a far more complex landscape of production, rural development, environmental, social justice and food consumption outcomes. However, there remain significant challenges to developing national and international policies that support the wide emergence of more sustainable forms of land use and efficient agricultural production. The lack of information flow between scientists, practitioners and policy makers is known to exacerbate the difficulties, despite increased emphasis upon evidence-based policy. In this paper, we seek to improve dialogue and understanding between agricultural research and policy by identifying the 100 most important questions for global agriculture. These have been compiled using a horizon-scanning approach with leading experts and representatives of major agricultural organizations worldwide. The aim is to use sound scientific evidence to inform decision making and guide policy makers in the future direction of agricultural research priorities and policy support. If addressed, we anticipate that these questions will have a significant impact on global agricultural practices worldwide, while improving the synergy between agricultural policy, practice and research. This research forms part of the UK Government's Foresight Global Food and Farming Futures project. © 2010 Earthscan.

News Article | December 2, 2015

It is clear that soil biodiversity represents an underutilized resource for sustaining or improving human health through better soil management. As indicated above, some agroecological management options are known to maintain and increase soil biodiversity for human, animal and plant health. However, further development of viable practices and especially the promotion of their use as broadly as possible is urgently needed. How to best manage the world’s lands for improved human health? Some basic guidelines for management of soil biodiversity are offered here. We suggest that a new approach for land use and management is required that acknowledges that soil biota act in concert to provide multiple benefits, even if these benefits are not easily observed. Moreover, increased soil foodweb complexity promotes resistance and resilience to perturbation and may buffer the impacts of extreme events. Agroecological practices that enhance soil organic matter content and soil biodiversity can promote nutrient supply, water infiltration and well-structured soil. Effective management options for cropping systems include reduced tillage with residue retention and rotation, cover crop inclusion, integrated pest management, and integrated soil fertility management (such as the combination of chemical and organic fertilizer). Expanding plant species diversity in crop and/or land rotations and adding organic amendments to pastures can increase soil biodiversity and mimic better the natural soil foodweb65, 66, 86. Additionally, maintenance of soil biodiversity at the landscape level can be enhanced through buffer strips and riparian zones and land rotations. Drainage water management can reduce the movement of pollutants, agrochemicals and other contaminants to nearby landscapes13. Likewise, several forestry practices exist that promote soil biodiversity: re-established mixed deciduous forest stands in Europe were shown to have higher soil biodiversity than pure coniferous stands87. Management for conservation of land should include soil biodiversity as an important criterion in determining protected and wilderness areas, particularly in rapidly changing ecosystems, such as tropical forests, permafrost soils and alpine grasslands. Conservation of soil biodiversity should, in general terms, be based on existing knowledge of soil properties, the abundance, sizes and types of soil organisms, and vegetation. Nevertheless, conserving soil biodiversity could also be done through laboratory isolation of individual organisms or whole communities to maintain a reservoir of genetic and functional diversity appropriate for future disease prevention, biological technologies, and pharmaceuticals88. Soil archives that conserve live collections of interacting species of soil microbes and invertebrates in soil samples from different biomes are irreplaceable and essential; yet at present there are few such archives88. Given the growing global demands placed on limited productive land and the projected increases in infectious diseases, there is an urgent need to implement these and other conservation measures as a stockpile for the future. Ideally, the practices and conservation strategies outlined above that enhance soil biodiversity for the maintenance of human health should be incorporated directly into land-, air- and water-use policies at global and regional levels and integrated with public health organizations such as the United Nations (UN) World Health Organization. Global conventions such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification are all central to soils and global land use but often neglect soil biodiversity and our dependence on soil for human health, with the exception of the CBD14 through the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Through the Global Soil Partnership, the UN FAO brings together global institutions and other interested parties to coordinate agreements and international challenges related to soil sustainability. The Global Soil Partnership is advised on global soil issues by a scientific Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils. Likewise, progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved by incorporating knowledge of soil biodiversity into a broader spectrum of benefits that improve human health (see Box 2; ref. 89). Importantly, the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative was established as an independent scientific effort to provide information on soil biodiversity to policymakers and is preparing to publish the first Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas in collaboration with the European Union Joint Research Centre. The Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative ( is also working to have soil biodiversity considered in current international initiatives such as the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and Future Earth. Fortunately, there is increased recognition that developing effective management tools for soil biodiversity requires active information transfer between scientists and policymakers with new policies formed on current evidence-based knowledge and local cultural knowledge3, 4. However, we need to identify implementation mechanisms to encourage easier updates on best management practices and related policies to ensure long-term sustainable use of global lands under a changing global environment. This is particularly crucial given the rapid accumulation of new insights on how soil biodiversity can be managed to promote human health. We are losing soils and soil biodiversity at a rapid pace, with substantial negative ramifications on human health worldwide. It is time to recognize and manage soil biodiversity as an underutilized resource for achieving long-term sustainability goals related to global human health, not only for improving soils, food security, disease control, water and air quality, but because biodiversity in soils is connected to all life and provides a broader, fundamental ecological foundation for working with other disciplines to improve human health.

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