5f. Food security and agriculture

Track Chairs:

  • Henrik Haller, Department of Ecotechnology and Sustainable Building Engineering, Mid Sweden University, Sweden, henrik.haller@miun.se
  • Stephen M. Mureithi, Department of Land Resource Management and Agricultural Technology, University of Nairobi, Kenya, stemureithi@uonbi.ac.ke

Goals/objectives and areas of the track

Track 5f addresses the topics of food security and agriculture from an interdisciplinary and systemic perspective at all spatial levels from local to global. It aims to bring light on environmental as well as nutritional, agricultural, demographic, socio-economic, political, technological and institutional aspects of food security. The goal of this track is to highlight practices and actions that increase Earth’s ability to sustainably feed the global population by 2050. The current global food production is overshooting the biophysical boundaries of the planet, threatening not only local ecosystems but also the stability of the Earth system itself by contributing to almost one-third of the greenhouse gas emissions and 80 per cent of biodiversity loss. It is also failing to provide sufficient food to more than 820 million people. An even greater fraction of the population is consuming an unhealthy diet that contributes to premature death. A third of all land (or half of all cultivable land) is used for production of crops and livestock and the population is increasing while the land that can be sustainably used for food production remains constant. The capacity of the agricultural land to produce safe and reliable yields is dependent on finite resources and this capacity is decreasing due to urban sprawl, loss of top soil, soil pollution, floods and drought due to climate change. Furthermore, the increasing demand for biomass-based energy may compete with food production for land and water resources. The current food system thus needs a radical transformation to safeguard food quality, food security and food sovereignty for an increasing population on existing agricultural land without crossing the biophysical thresholds of the planetary boundaries or obstructing an equitable social foundation. Food systems, however, may also be a strong lever to improve human and environmental health and promote sustainable development on a local or global level. Agricultural production is the cornerstone of rural economies and in most developing economies; agriculture accounts for a substantial proportion of foreign exchange earnings and employs much of the active labour force. Even though there are no silver bullets or systems that by default supply a win-win situation, well-designed and well-managed agroecosystems may not only promote rural incomes and enhance rural welfare but also provide ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, erosion control, water regulation and preservation of biodiversity.

The overarching objective of track 5f is to assess opportunities and challenges for restructuring agricultural production towards sustainability. We aim to bring light on limits for food production imposed by biophysical boundaries as well as socio-economic and policy constraints as well as on innovative practices and actions that defy these limitations and increase the ability to sustainably feed all people on this Planet. Accordingly, we invite submissions from various disciplines, in the context of (but not limited to) agro-ecological concerns such as:

  • How do we address the issue of population increase in a democratic and just manner in relation to food production?
  • How much healthy food can different agroecosystems supply within a safe and just operating space defined by the planetary boundaries?
  • To what extent can sustainable intensification and system innovation help us feed an increasing population on existing agricultural land?
  • What is the potential of urban farming to alleviate the pressure on agricultural land?
  • What trade-offs assessments exist of the phenomenon of increased productivity vs. secured or enhanced ecosystem function?
  • What local variations to carrying capacity exist and how can climate change adaptation practices help overcome limitations posed by climate change?
  • To what extent can dietary changes and infrastructural changes to avoid food loss decrease the environmental footprint?
  • What are some promising examples of landscape-scale Nature-based Solutions or multifunctional land use strategies that simultaneously support habitat, productivity, regulatory, social, and economic functions are needed?
  • What (digital, participatory, planning) methodologies have been tested and developed to address this future challenge?
  • What links, hurdles and opportunities exist between the ecological common goods’ goals of climate, water and land (SDG 13, 14, 15) and the goals for improving human well-being (poverty hunger, health education, gender, sanitation – SDG 1-6)

Length and content of the proposed abstract to the track

Each proposed abstract (in connection to one of the areas pointed out above) within 300 and 500 words (including everything)

    1. shall be best organized (without headlines) along usual structures (e.g. intro/method/findings or results/ discussion/conclusions)
    2. does not need to, but can include references
    3. shall provide in a final section
      1. to which SDG(s) and SDG-target(s) their proposed abstract especially relate to (e.g. “SDG+Target: 14.1.”.
      2. a brief indication how the proposed contribution relates to the topic of the Conference (“ACCELERATING PROGRESS TOWARDS SDG’s IN TIMES OF CRISIS”).

Abstracts which do not outline points c.1.) AND c.2) might not be given special consideration in the selection for potential publications and might be considered less relevant in the Review.

Potential publication channels

With regard to potential publications, depending on the number and quality of contributions the following publication opportunities have already been inquired:

  1. Special Issue in Ambio – A Journal of the Human Environment Springer, Impact factor: 4.778 (2019) https://www.springer.com/journal/13280?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI2cHm3uOz7QIVgdOyCh3GKQZ0EAAYASAAEgJHmfD_BwE
  2.     Special Issue in Land, Livelihoods and Food Security in Frontiers in Sustainable food systems, https://www.frontiersin.org/research-topics?domain=all&journal=1335
  3.     Edited Book with the ISDRS partner Taylor & Francis/Routledge.


See Submissions