Conservation International

Ensuring Food Security


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines food security as a 'situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.'CI's new Food Security Program explicitly addresses the challenge of food security. We work at both the field and policy level to demonstrate that ecosystem health is essential to long-term food security and to promote sustainable livelihoods where agricultural production and resource conservation positively reinforce each other.

Addressing Food Security

Presently, a very large percentage of the world's population is food-insecure. Although overall global food production is sufficient to meet the needs of the world’s 6 billion people, about 1 billion do not consume daily minimal requirements for protein and calories (UNEP 2009).

Presently, global food security is mainly limited by access to food – a problem almost always linked to poverty. Therefore the challenge of food security is integrally linked to livelihoods. Ensuring that people have a sustainable financial means to obtain the food they need addresses one of the key factors of food security.

IN DEPTH: CI is partnering with Starbucks to create alternative opportunities for farmers in Mexico.

As such, after decades of neglect, agriculture, as a means to address both food security and livelihoods, is once again seen as a potential driver of rural development, especially in Africa.

Assuring Plentiful Food

Global food demand is predicted to double by 2050 as a consequence of a projected population increase of 2.7 billion more people, increased incomes and changing consumption patterns.

This expanding demand is threatened by increasing areas of agricultural land being used for non-food crops such as biofuels, the degradation of agricultural land, the effects of climate change on agriculture and the production decline in global fisheries and wild-harvested land species.

Present poverty and future food demand call for massive investments in sustainably managed agriculture and fisheries, and donors are stepping up to the challenge.

But the environmental impacts of these investments are poorly understood, and without a direct link to nature’s services, these investments stand to have highly destructive environmental impacts. Integrating ecosystem services into the development agenda is an essential part of viably addressing the challenge of food security. 

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