UN body asserts need for green economy

Sunday, October 21, 2012
[PHOTO: UNifeed] 
Nairobi: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says the aim of achieving food security across the globe will become increasingly elusive unless countries factor the planet's nature-based services into agricultural and related planning as part of a green economy.

In a report released this week, UNEP said that safeguarding the underlying ecological foundations that support food production, including biodiversity will be central if the world is to feed seven billion inhabitants, climbing to over nine billion by 2050.

The study 'Avoiding Future Famines: Strengthening the Ecological Basis of Food Security through Sustainable Food System' aimed to increase the focus on these crucial aspects, which are being undermined by overfishing, unsustainable water use, environmentally degrading agricultural practices and other human activities. 

In an interview, UNEP's Chief Scientist Joseph Alcamo said there was a strong connection between a green economy and solutions for agriculture and fisheries. 

He pointed out that a green economy also needed a compatible agricultural and fishery sector. But to get there Alcamo noted some basic economic policies would need to be addressed. 

Using as an example the fishery industry, he said that while countries subsidized their fishing industries with about "25 to 29 billion dollars per year", those were, he said, "perverse subsidies because what they lead to in many, many cases is overfishing and drawing down the resources and the self limitation of these companies".

Alcamo proposed to invest instead in sustainable equipment and policies to create a sustainable fisheries and food production sector.

The report, produced in collaboration with other international organizations including the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Bank, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Resources Institute (WRI), took a holistic approach to analyzing the food system. 

Twelve scientists and experts authored the report, covering many different areas of expertise including food consumption patterns, agricultural production, marine fisheries and inland fisheries. They issued a raft of recommendations to shore up ecological foundations and create the conditions for sustainable food production. -UNifeed
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