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Demand for food will greatly increase in the coming decades due to rising incomes and an additional two or three billion people to feed. Agriculture needs to change to meet this demand in a sustainable manner. Investing in agriculture is also one of the most effective strategies for achieving critical post-2015 development goals related to poverty and hunger, nutrition and health, education, economic and social growth, peace and security, and preserving the world’s environment.

The Thematic Group believes that it is possible to eradicate extreme poverty, hunger and undernourishment by 2030 and sustain food security without irreversibly damaging the world’s natural resources, even in a time of climatic changes and extremes. To achieve that, rising food yields must be decoupled from unsustainable utilization of water, energy, fertilizers, chemicals, and land. We call for a multi-faceted agro-ecological intensification of food production to

  • Increase productivity by at least 70% on existing crop and pasture land;
  • Make farming an attractive economic development opportunity for people living in rural areas, particularly smallholder farmers, small to medium entrepreneurs, and youth;
  • Preserve the environment through ultimately stopping the expansion of agriculture into sensitive ecosystems, lowering resource intensity (land, water, energy, etc.), and sound use of inputs; and
  • Reduce food waste.

The required solutions currently exist, or could (with wise investments) become available in the next 10-20 years. Early action is important, but we also need political will and better mechanisms for long-term thinking and action, particularly more support for public R&D and human resources development to foster innovation and behavior change.



Other Thematic Networks

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has established 12 Thematic Networks comprising leading scientists, engineers, academics and practitioners from business and civil society to promote solutions to key challenges of sustainable development. The Thematic Networks are solution oriented rather than research oriented and aim to identify practical solutions to the challenges of sustainable development.

  • 2: Reducing Poverty and Building Peace in Fragile Regions

    In many places the multiple stressors of environmental degradation, poor governance, stagnant economies, and conflict have prevented progress on the MDGs. This group seeks to look at how to improve progress in the most difficult places.

  • 5: Health for All

    Health is crucial for sustainable development as it sits at the nexus of the social, environmental, economic, and governance pillars. While the MDGs brought new vigor to specific global health challenges, this group seeks to expand the global agenda, with a focus on Universal Health Coverage.

  • 6: Deep Decarbonization Pathways

    The Thematic Group comprises the members of the Deep Decarbonization Pathway Project (DDPP), an initiative that prepares national, long-term deep decarbonization pathways that are consistent with the 2°C target, working with 15 country research teams.

  • 7: Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems

    This group explores how to provide healthy diets to a growing world population while reducing the environmental impact of agriculture. It also looks at how the 4 pillars of sustainable development can be realized in rural areas.

  • 9: Sustainable Cities: Inclusive, Resilient, and Connected

    Today, 50% of the world’s 7 billion people live in cities, and, by 2050, this will rise to 70%. This Thematic Groups seeks to identify practical solutions for improving urban management and has initiated the Campaign for an Urban Sustainable Development Goal.

  • 10: Good Governance of Extractive and Land Resources

    Extractive industries are critical drivers of many economies, but often place a great burden on environmental systems, or affect societies in areas of extraction. This group looks at how to better use resource endowments, including land, for sustainable development.

  • 11: Redefining the Role of Business for Sustainable Development

    The capacity for innovation, the management skills and the financial resources of the business community will be a major provider of solutions to most areas. This Thematic Group is developing suggestions for the role of business in the transition towards a sustainable economy.

  • 12: Data for Sustainable Development

    This thematic network seeks to identify new and innovative information and monitoring systems necessary to guide the SDGs, as well as existing approaches to data collection, compilation, analysis, and dissemination that might help data-users to overcome gaps and limitations. It will also provide technical guidance to the new Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, launched in September 2015.