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Food and Land Use (FOLU) launch

India can ensure healthy diets for its growing population, improve livelihoods and plug waste by adopting better food and land use practices

New Delhi, January 10, 2020 – With a population projected to reach 1.5 billion people by 2030, and climate risks threatening food security, livelihoods, water supply and human health, India needs to urgently shift to sustainable food production and consumption to ensure nutritious diets for all. Today, the Food and Land Use (FOLU) platform formally launched in India to promote better food and land use practices that support healthy diets for a growing population, improve farmers’ livelihoods and the well-being of forests and farmland, and reduce food waste.

FOLU India is a joint initiative between the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and WRI India. This initiative will work towards developing long-term pathways for sustainable food and land use systems, and inform policy decisions.

India is home to 1.2 billion people (2011 census) and more than 17% of the world’s population. Nearly half of the nation’s population is undernourished and the country ranks 102 out of 119 countries in the 2019 Global Hunger Index. Climate change is adding further stress on the nation’s resources today with incidents like changing rainfall patterns, heatwaves, reduced availability of water and other crisis impacting food security, water supply, health, livelihoods and farm incomes. In an effort to alleviate these impacts, FOLU will study India’s potential to develop more resilient and long-term food and land use systems.

Unsustainable food and land use practices are threatening economies the world over. Growing Better: Ten Critical Transitions to Transform Food and Land Use, a landmark report released by the global FOLU coalition in September, revealed that the ways in which people produce and consume food and use land cost 12 trillion USD a year in hidden costs to the environment, human health and development. These costs are set to rise to 16 trillion USD by 2050 if current trends continue.

The report proposed a concrete reform agenda centered around ten critical transitions that stand to unlock 4.5 trillion USD in new business opportunities each year by 2030. At the same time, it will save costs of 5.7 trillion USD a year in damage to people and the planet by 2030, more than 15 times the investment cost of up to 350 billion a year.

“Transformative changes in the world’s food and land use systems are necessary to achieve the targets for sustainable development and climate change mitigation set out in the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change. FOLU India aims to provide insights to national and state level policy makers and implementation agencies and help fine-tune solutions to local conditions and requirements. FOLU envisions a sound system of growing and managing food, which will support the nation’s nutritional requirements, ensure feeding the entire population and improve the health of agricultural and forest lands simultaneously,” explained Mr. S Vijay Kumar, FOLU India Advisor and a distinguished fellow at TERI.

Based on the Growing Better report’s framework of transitions, FOLU India will conduct detailed data collection and analysis to identify the exact critical transitions the nation would require. The action agenda will focus on enabling a responsible and empowered citizenry who make informed choices, promoting a satisfactory quality of life and sustainable livelihoods, ensuring healthy diets and nutrition security for all, fostering resource efficiency and minimizing food loss and waste, managing climate risks to reduce adverse impacts, promoting sustainability and restoration of land use systems. “The time has come to take a pause and reflect on the impact of the current methods of agri-food production on natural resource system and human health.  We must redesign our food system for better health and satisfaction of human beings and ecofriendly production," said Prof. Ramesh Chand, Member, NITI Aayog.

Dr. OP Agarwal, CEO, WRI India, pointed out, “As our urban population grows and more land moves to non-agricultural uses, a smaller share of our population has to produce increasing amounts of food from a reducing area of land. For this to be possible, reforms in food and land use systems will be critical.” Throwing light on the scope of this transition, he said, “Reforms will be needed in how we use agricultural land and what kind of crops we grow to ensure that the nutritional needs of the entire population is met. We need to find newer ways of transporting, storing and marketing the food so that waste is minimized. Agricultural practices need to change to ensure efficient use of natural resources like water and soil. FOLU can help the nation transition to a sustainable, clean and rewarding economy while delivering health to the people.”

Emphasizing the growing interest of the global community in shifting to healthier and more sustainable food and land use practices, Melissa Pinfield, Program Director FOLU, “As we explore global best practices in food cultivation, management and consumption systems, we find significant innovations coming from India. Our aim is to build a repository of best practices from across the world, that can add value and help nations learn, leverage, adapt and share knowledge on a common platform.”

About the report

Growing Better: Ten Critical Transitions to Transform Food and Land Use* draws on new analysis as well as builds on the urgency of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Land report and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report in 2019, and other related research.

The report’s ten critical transitions are across four themes: healthy diets (nutritious food), productive and regenerative agriculture, protecting and restoring nature, and a healthy and productive ocean (nature-based solutions), diversifying protein supply, reducing food loss and waste, and local loops and linkages (wider choice and supply), digital revolution, stronger rural livelihoods, and gender and demography (opportunity for all).

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