Food and Land Use

 

How can we sustainably provide healthy food for a growing global population while achieving net zero emissions?

 

Our food system has major environmental and health impacts, and the world faces an enormous challenge to sustainably provide healthy food for a projected 9.8 billion people by 2050.1.

With agriculture an important economic contributor, it is also a driver of environmental degradation, responsible for 12% of Australia's carbon emissions.2. and almost 60% of our fresh water consumption.3.

While under-nutrition and malnutrition remain a huge problem globally, Australia grapples with an obesity problem, with the least nutritious foods among the least sustainable to produce. Further, it is estimated food waste costs the Australian economy $20 billion every year.4.

Population growth and climate change will increase these challenges. Continuing along the same path risks overwhelming the planet’s capability to continue to meet our needs.

Addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed by all countries means transforming our food and land use system to build agricultural resilience and food security, improve diets, reverse environmental degradation and biodiversity loss, cut emissions and deliver significant levels of carbon sequestration.

So how do we get there? In order to minimise trade-offs and unintended consequences, we first need to better understand the complex interactions within this system. This will help avoid pursuing insufficiently ambitious strategies, making choices that deliver benefits in one area but cause problems elsewhere, or missing opportunities that offer multiple benefits. There are also immediate pressures and opportunities facing the Australian agricultural sector – including concerns about environmental issues and increasing scrutiny of Australia’s clean and green credentials – that require more coordinated, accelerated action.

Acting early on these issues also represents an enormous opportunity for Australian agricultural businesses and our economy as a whole to cement and expand our competitive advantage in agriculture, and build resilience.

 

Land Use Futures: Pathways to a Sustainable Food and Land Use System

ClimateWorks Australia as part of Monash Sustainable Development Institute (MSDI), along with Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Deakin University, are seeking to address this challenge by developing pathways and a roadmap to a sustainable food and land use system for Australia. The Land Use Futures project is building a coalition of representatives and influential private, government, research and community organisations to identify gaps, opportunities and priorities in the transition to a sustainable food and land use system, along with implementation support designed to assist project supporters to catalyse implementation and deliver early wins.

The project contributes to and benefits from participation in the global Food and Land Use (FOLU) initiative, which applies the successful model of the energy sector Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project (DDPP) to the food and land use system. This will allow Australia to both contribute to and benefit from the knowledge and expertise of these leading institutions and other country teams.

ClimateWorks Australia is recognised as a leader in convening cross-sectoral stakeholders, managing inter-disciplinary research and translating research outputs into practical advice and on-ground engagement to catalyse action. These capabilities underpinned the success of the ClimateWorks and ANU-led Australian Pathways to Deep Decarbonisation in 2050 project.Our team is well placed to tackle the complexity of this project, pairing the analytical capability of the CSIRO and Deakin University with the demonstrated stakeholder engagement capability of ClimateWorks Australia. Other partners are likely to be brought in as the project progresses.

In addition, the global FOLU initiative provides an opportunity for Australia to harness global momentum, leverage expertise of international partners, and collaboratively tackle the international trade dimensions of this problem. Australia has the opportunity to take a leadership role, helping to raise the ambition and impact of other country teams and achieve greater impact on a global scale.

The project will build momentum and influence crucial international milestones through the global project consortium, including major milestones in 2020 relating to the Paris Climate Agreement, the Convention of Biodiversity and the SDG five year review. It will also link in with ClimateWorks Australia’s ongoing work in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

 

References

1.World Population Prospects: Key findings & Advance Tables, United Nations DESA / Population Division 2017. Accessible at: https://population.un.org/wpp/Publications/

2. Tracking Progress, ClimateWorks Australia, 2018, Accessible at: https://climateworks.com.au/sites/default/files/documents/publications/climateworksaustralia-tracking-progress-report-2018.pdf

3. Physical Water Supply and Use - Main findings 2014-15, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Accessible at: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Previousproducts/4610.0Main%20Features22014-15?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=4610.0&issue=2014-15&num=&view=

4. National Food Waste Strategy: Halving Australia's Food Waste by 2030, Commonwealth of Australia 2017, Accessible at: http://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste-resource-recovery/publications/national-food-waste-strategy