13 Jun 2018 Blogpost Ecosystems

The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity for agriculture and food

Authored by more than 100 world class scientists including ecologists, economists, accountants, development practitioners and policy makers the ground breaking report on  economics of ecosystems and biodiversity for agriculture and food  is the first study that provides an authoritative and comprehensive assessment of our food system, covering topics such as farming, marketing, retailing and consumption.

To feed more than 7 billion today and the 10 billion people in 2050, we need to put in place a sound food system. However, climate change, water shortages, loss of biodiversity and polluted seas and oceans are adversely impacting global food production systems and undermining the ability to produce food sustainably.

This doom and gloom reality can have devastating impact on people and more specifically on the 805 million people who suffer from chronic under-nutrition.

The magnitude of the challenge to nourish a growing population requires a systems approach, which has thus far been lacking. For the first time, TEEBAgriFood addresses holistically ‘eco-agri-food systems’, linking human health with planetary health. It provides a universal and comprehensive framework to analyze and assess all the externalities of our eco-agri-food systems and guidance on how to capture impact on  top soil, ground water and human health.

Today, the very foundation of our food system is threatened by climate change. Global and national modeling studies suggest that yields of major cereals will decline under scenarios of increased temperature, especially in tropical countries. 

Water scarcity threatens agricultural growth. Biodiversity loss, including loss of critical crop pollinators, and loss of soil quality will impact global fruit and vegetable supply and as a result adversely impact our health.

Photo by Trent Erwin/ Unsplash

We need to acknowledge that our food production system is at risk and what is at stake is global food security. The scientific and policy world today is struggling  to design a sustainable food production system which is equitable and healthy for the people and planet. This report provides valuable insights and clear actionable recommendations to policy makers on how to evaluate and design food systems. The recommendations focus on national income accounting, project evaluation, choice of food and different  farming methods.

It provides a new evaluation framework to capture malign and benign impacts of food production, distribution and consumption and provides recommendations on how to make it sustainable, equitable and healthy.

The report offers a toolkit to evaluate and design better food systems and a ground breaking conceptual mapping of the agriculture- food-human health relationship which provides insights to farmers, national agriculture and environment planners and policy makers.

The development community can use this framework to track Sustainable Development Goal targets for hunger, equity, health, terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Last but not least, it provides the means to assess synergies and trade-offs by providing guidance in valuing positive and negative externalities.

Contact: Pushpam Kumar, Report Director and Chief Environmental Economist