One of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 2, addresses the urgent need to achieve food and nutrition security (“Zero Hunger”). Although some progress in this regard has been reported by international agencies in recent years, there is no reason to believe that the challenge has been overcome. In its report of 2018, “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World”, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN FAO) indicated that international food security has decreased and that the proportion of people suffering from malnutrition has increased.
There are a number of influencing factors in the processes that decide whether nutritional safety and improved nutrition can be achieved in the short or long term. These include climate change, water scarcity, poverty, and even oil and gas prices, since the production of fertilizers, for example, is oil dependent. However, there are also great economic differences in the conditions prevailing in agriculture worldwide. In less developed regions, for example, such as the sub-Saharan and some Asian areas, food is mainly produced by small farms. In industrialized countries such as the USA or Canada it is rather large farms that generate food. The challenges that these food production systems are facing differ significantly. The Network of African Science Academics (NASAC) has recently pointed out that virtually all components of the nutritional system depend on innovation. Planting material should be affordable and accessible, soil and water have to be controlled in terms of quantity and quality, waste should be avoided. For African food systems, innovations, i.e. R&D of products/services specifically developed for local circumstances, seem to be a key element of success.
Science has to guide these processes and science diplomacy can provide pathways for international cooperation with regard to these matters. NASAC, for example, is the African regional network of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), a global network of science and medical academies. The IAP includes over 140 scientific academies that work together in four such networks. The IAP helps to find adequate policies, improve public health and enhance education. Food and nutrition security and agriculture are some of its focuses. From the identifying of needs and knowledge gaps, the IAP project moves to the formulation of an effective agenda and on actions. With a working group in each of the four regions, further evidence at the regional and the national level is collected, existing priorities and initiatives are consulted. The results lead to the preparation of regional reports that are presented to key policymaking bodies.
On various occasions, the EU expressed its strong commitment to enhancing food security in Africa. The cooperation of the EU with representatives of the African Union and its member states has led to a number of bilateral agreements, where related matters are addressed. In the current work programme of Horizon 2020, you can find a section that is dedicated to “Support to the Implementation of the EU-Africa Partnership on Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture”. Here, the linkage between a foreign policy objective and a scientific approach becomes explicit.
|Read more about food and nutrition security in the reference below:
– The 2018 Report of the FAO on the state of food security and nutrition in the world (Link)
– An article on new models for science diplomacy transcending boundaries, by Claudia Canales Holzeis and others (Link)
– The growing importance of science diplomacy in the world of diplomacy, by Nikhil Seth (Link)
Links to institutions:
– Network of African Science Academics (NASAC) (Link)
– IAP Project ‘Food and Nutrition Security and Agriculture’ (Link)
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