To deflect future world food crises created by climate change and growing consumer demand, a Cornell University-led international team of economists, scientists and business experts has created a road map for global agricultural and food systems innovation, reform and sustainability.
The group’s report—”Socio-Technical Innovation Bundles for Agri-Food Systems,” funded by the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability—was published Dec. 10 on the Nature Sustainability website, in collaboration with its sibling journal, Nature Food.
“By any measure, our world’s food systems are phenomenally productive, responsive and adaptable, as we can now feed almost 5 billion in a healthy way,” said Chris Barrett, professor of applied economics and management, and international professor of agriculture in Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, who leads the project.
“But that means nearly 3 billion cannot afford a healthy diet. And with inevitable population growth, income growth and the climate change that’s already baked into the food system, our current agricultural gains and methods are not sustainable,” said Barrett, also a faculty member in the Department of Global Development and in the Department of Economics. “Globally, we can’t continue on this path without destroying the planet and imperiling billions of people.”
In December 2019, more than 20 business, government, nonprofit and scientific experts from around the world convened to kick off the expert panel at Cornell Tech in New York City to assess research linking agri-food systems, technological and institutional innovations, and society’s future needs.
The group has outlined seven major recommendations in a 170-plus-page report in order to make the world’s agri-food systems healthy, equitable, resilient and sustainable. Its main recommendation involves combining social and technological innovations.