By World Business Council for Sustainable Development
The magnitude of the world’s food security challenge is well documented. By 1950 the world’s population had reached two and a half billion people. In October 2011, it had nearly tripled to seven billion people and by 2050, we can expect it to surpass nine billion people. In order to feed this population, it is estimated that global food production will need to increase by some 70%.
This is a tremendous challenge which is further exacerbated by existing constraints such as erratic climatic conditions, limited farmland availability, scarcity of natural resources as well as lack of infrastructure and finance.
In recent years, the dialogue around food security has increased and gained traction. However, to facilitate positive and productive collaboration and action between governments, the private sector and other key stakeholders, tools are required that can help the multitude of players turn dialogue into action.
One such tool is the Rice Bowl Index, which is designed to assess the robustness of a country’s food security system. Initially focusing on 14 countries across Asia-Pacific, the tool’s unique feature is that it captures the complexity of food security through a multi-dimensional approach and reduces this complexity into user-friendly charts and tables. These provide a platform for discussing potential action to address the challenges. The tool serves as a common language for different stakeholders to engage in purposeful dialogue leading to solutions-oriented action.
Conceived by Syngenta, the Rice Bowl Index is the result of more than two years of planning and consultation with inter-governmental organisations, food and agriculture companies, non-governmental organisations, multi-disciplinary experts, academia, civil society groups and media. Consisting of a quantitative and a qualitative component, the quantitative component is a modular diagnostic platform examining the key enablers and disablers of food security, built on Frontier Strategy Group’s MarketView Platform. The Rice Bowl Index defines these enablers as demand and price; environmental factors; farm-level factors; and policy and trade. The qualitative component is a white paper authored by Professor Paul Teng, one of Asia’s leading food security experts.
By moving from the ‘talking’ stage towards a solutions-focused dialogue, the Rice Bowl Index has generated a great amount of interest, and has successfully highlighted the importance of a system-wide integrated approach in managing the key enabling and disabling factors of food security. Furthermore, the initiative has raised the understanding that, due to the multidimensional complexities of food security, collaboration is essential in order to affect change that is sustainable in the long term.
But it cannot stop there. The road to food security has many different routes, and this means action must take place between governments, the private sector and other key stakeholders all across the world. Whilst the Asia-Pacific region, home to over 60% of the world’s population and some of the world’s fastest growing economies, is the current focus of the Index, such a tool can be applied to other regions too. Concertedly, we can shift the dialogue from discussing the extent of the problem to forging the solutions needed to address the food security challenge: translating complexity into an opportunity for action.
Post Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/move-food-security-debate-to-solutions and for more details: http://www.wbcsd.org/home.aspx