Shocks to the food system caused by the pandemic, war and climate change have pushed the need for food security at the top of the priority agenda. Ahead of the summit in September, agribusinesses, cooperatives, policy-makers and investors across the supply chain discuss the vulnerabilities of the food system and the actions needed to continue the transition to a resilient and sustainable collective future.

Robert Appleby

“The recent geopolitical events and climate catastrophes facing global supply chains has thrown food security into stark relief, temporarily sacrificing the move towards a more sustainable food production system. Political rhetoric has shifted to food, water and energy self-sufficiency and away from the push to Net Zero; in full recognition that the food and agricultural industry is a major contributor to GHGs.

Innovative and exciting technologies in food and farming have been shown to address many of the immediate challenges and meet the goals of providing greater supply chain resilience, quality and affordability of food and fewer externalities. Capital allocators remain invested in disruptive technologies, regulators continue to legislate, and consumers demand food that is better for themselves and the planet. The confluence of these factors will move sustainability and food security closer, rather than one having primacy over the other.” Robert Appleby,  Founder & CIO, THE CIBUS FUNDS

Robert Berendes

“The need for food security throughout the world has been the major driver for innovating in the Ag and Food industry. Over the last few decades, we’ve also come to realize that we need to feed the planet in a truly sustainable way. The most powerful message that this industry can send is this:  with recent technology advances in areas such as regenerative farming, gene-editing of seeds, biological crop protection, and soil carbon sequestration the perceived conflict between food security and sustainability can be eliminated. The nexus of farming health, planetary health, and consumer health holds the key to taking the global ag and food industry into its new era.” Robert Berendes, Executive Director, FLAGSHIP PIONEERING

Rachel Kolbe

“There is much debate over whether food security will shift priorities on the sustainability agenda. Opposing food security and sustainability is a trap to avoid. Instead, the current context must help us embrace their synergies: resilient and sustainable systems depend on producing more with a regenerative approach. Feeding the world and having a positive impact on society and the planet are both possible if we produce more, better… sustainably! Agriculture is part of the solution to global warming and farmers are increasingly mobilised. Agronomically, scientifically, we know that it’s because a farm produces more and diversified biomass that the farmer can, simultaneously, improve soil health, water cycles, regenerate biodiversity, help mitigate climate change (GHG reduction, avoidance and removal/storage), while reducing dependency on inputs, adapting to climate change, heightening productivity/yields, diversifying farmers’ revenues and improving their livelihoods. The current context provides us with a clear collective challenge: to work within global flows of food stuffs, capable of sustainably producing the foundation of the food pyramid at scale while valuing the environmental services regenerative agriculture can provide. InVivo is innovating digital and technological solutions to catalyse this transition at scale so that food security will be attained with the sustainability agenda.” Rachel Kolbe Semhoun, Head of Sustainability, INVIVO

Martien Van Nieuwkoop

“In event of disruptions due to climate change, fertiliser shortages and supply chain disruptions, demand for developing ecosystems for new technologies including data driven digital technologies with active participation of innovators and private sector has shown a significant increase. Also, increase in climate adaptation and mitigation as an integral part of agriculture and food investments is expected to grow significantly. A combination of incentives, institutions, innovations and financing is required in next decade to enable sustainable and resilient improvements in agriculture and food systems.” Martien Van NieuwkoopGlobal Director for Agriculture and Food, THE WORLD BANK

Adam Bergman

“Countries threatened with growing food insecurity are unlikely to implement policies that focus on sustainability, unless the solutions to solve the food crisis happen to be more sustainable. Whereas political leaders in developed countries without food security concerns might prefer to push more sustainable food initiatives, those running countries where food insecurity is very real must make finding ways to feed their population the top priority. With the recent fall of Sri Lanka’s government and the Arab Spring, which occurred a decade ago, still in the minds of political leaders, feeding people will be their key concern, rather than lower emissions.

However, there will be some positives for sustainable food systems in countries in Africa, LATAM, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, which are likely to focus on food self-sufficiency as a response to recent export bans of key agricultural products (beef, chicken, palm oil, wheat) by a growing number of countries around the world. Food self-sufficiency is likely to drive the increased adoption of sustainable technologies, including alternative proteins and indoor farming, which can be utilized in countries with climates not suitable to growing produce or raising animals outdoors.

Furthermore, high crop-input costs should encourage the use of biologicals and more sustainable products to replace expensive chemical fertilizers and pesticides. In addition, we are on the path to creating the 21st century farm, whereby farmers will use the latest digital technologies, automation and robotics to improve farm efficiency and lower costs, decreasing emissions on the farm.  Finally, the de-globalization of food will force changes throughout the supply chain, which should ultimately reduce food waste, a huge issue globally. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, each year, over 30%, equating to $2.6 trillion of food grown is not consumed.

Reducing food waste would have the biggest impact toward creating a more efficient food system and decreasing emissions, as it will have a direct impact on reducing the need for as much cold storage infrastructure, crop inputs, farmland, transportation, and water for items grown that are never consumed. Food waste mitigation will be the key to ensuring there is enough food to feed a population projected to reach almost 10 billion people by 2050. Therefore, long-term, the best tools for averting a food crisis, and the political instability that would result from it, are solutions like these, which promote sustainability and efficiency.” Adam Bergman, MD, Clean Energy Transition Group, Global Head of AgTech, CITI

Juan Lucas Restrepo

“Achieving food security at global level is becoming a more and more pressing need. According to SOFI 2022, 828 million people were still suffering from hunger in 2021 and almost 3.1 billion people were not able to afford a healthy diet in 2020 (SOFI, 2022). The numbers tell us that if we don’t accelerate our efforts in the next 8 years, we will fail to meet SDG2. The challenge is that achieving food security depends on successfully addressing the rest of the global challenges we are facing today, such as, climate change, malnutrition, biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation. Our food systems are currently the biggest driver of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and freshwater withdrawal, and are responsible for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions leading to climate change.

Increasing climate change is making it difficult for farmers, especially smallholders, to produce food and thrive. In many of the poorest regions of the world, climate change will reduce crop yields and increase the incidence of animal diseases, leading to higher food prices (up to even 84% by 2050), and insecurity for farmers, especially in low- and middle-income countries (WEF, 2017). Climate change will mostly affect subsistence smallholder farmers and their rain-fed farming systems in the highlands and the tropics, i.e., 80% of the world’s cropland and 60% of global agricultural output (FAO, 2017).

We will not be able to achieve food security if we do not address these challenges through a systems approach. This is very clear in the minds of many, from countries to private sector to civil societies and organizations like us. However, commitment will not be enough, if it’s not accompanied by doubling investments in Research & Innovation for sustainable food systems transformation. I am saying this because, while the climate, land, and biodiversity challenges are common across many countries in the world, there is no silver bullet to address them. In fact, the severity and extent to which these are affecting different geographical areas varies enormously.

Solutions to these challenges depend on the geographical, economic, social context and as such they need to be tailored to it. Science plays a crucial role in coming up with locally adapted solutions that take into consideration the specificities of each country and region. Beyond this, solutions need to be co-created with national research systems, universities, and most importantly, with the end-users: farmers. If we do not do this, we will not succeed in implementing effectively and scaling up these solutions.

The private sector in particular, has a key role to play in addressing global challenges and achieving food security worldwide. Over the past 25 years, private agricultural and food R&D spending rose considerably. Private investments in agriculture have contributed to raising the productivity of farmers worldwide, especially in developing countries, thus contributing to the overall long-term food security (Fuglie, 2016).  Juan Lucas Restrepo, Global Director of Partnerships and Advocacy, CGIAR

Inbal Becker-Reshef

“Agriculture and climate change are in a negative feedback loop. Agriculture is significantly contributing to global warming (between 21 and 37% of greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food systems) and at the same time food production systems are adversely impacted by a warming and more erratic climate and extreme weather. If we take this year for example, we have seen a severe drought impacting crops in the US wheatbelt, a heatwave that damaged crops in India, unprecedented heat and droughts reducing production across major grain growing regions in Europe, dry conditions that impacted corn and soy in Brazil and Argentina, crop failure due to droughts across parts of north Africa and the Middle East, and a fourth consecutive drought in the horn of Africa that is leading to catastrophic food insecurity.

More sustainable food systems are within reach if public and private sectors work innovatively together to support effective policies, programs, research, and innovative applications adapted to local contexts and needs. Industry, governments and farmers alike increasingly recognize that the benefits of their efforts to achieve more sustainable agricultural systems largely outweigh the costs in the long term.

On the NASA Harvest side, a key goal of our program is to work closely with partners across the agriculture sector to inform key food security and sustainability decisions through timely and quantifiable information from satellite data. Satellites provide global, timely, transparent, data on every field across the globe on a near daily basis. This includes data on evolving crop conditions, land-use change, potential yields, soil quality, cropping practices and on changes from one week to the next and from one season to the next.

In order to support a large-scale shift to more sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices a growing area of focus under the Harvest Sustainable and Regenerative Agriculture initiative is on using such data to accelerate the development of the evidence base for sustainable and regenerative agriculture across diverse agroecological systems. Such evidence is critical to support on-farm decisions and implement policies that ultimately positively impact agricultural production while simultaneously increasing farmland resilience.

As we aim to increase knowledge – and by extension increase uptake – of more sustainable farming practices, we recognize that it is critical that farmers maintain profitability and production capacity. Working directly with a range of stakeholders and with the help of satellite data, we are focusing efforts on building this evidence base as a solid starting point to support decisions that can help to safeguard the capacity of our food systems, today and long into the future.” Inbal Becker-ReshefProgram Director, NASA HARVEST

Mónica Andrés Enríquez

“Fertilisers are essential for food security. They supply plants with the nutrients they need to grow. Half of the global population relies on food produced with mineral fertilisers. Accelerating the transition to sustainable, efficient agriculture is key to strengthening food security.

Yara is helping build a more sustainable, resilient food system by providing farmers with high quality, low carbon fertilizers and switching fertilizer production to renewable energy sources. We also empower farmers to select and manage nutrients in the most sustainable, efficient way through our agronomic advice and digital tools, and we work to find optimal ways to recycle nutrients that would otherwise end up as waste and then process these to produce organic fertilizers. However, issues connected to food systems and food security are complex and must be solved in partnerships. This requires a collaborative effort across industries, governments, and the private sector.

We need to act, and we need to act together. A food insecure world is an unstable world.” Mónica Andrés Enríquez, Executive Vice President for Europe, YARA INTERNATIONAL

Andreas Sommer

“We need continue to look at ways to provide nutritious foods for an evolving population while keeping in focus the environmental considerations tied to food production. As the climate continues to change, further affecting many populations that are already prone to food insecurity, it will become even more important to not only prioritise how food is grown, but also how we can ensure that food and ingredients can be transported from where it is abundant to where it is needed the most.

As we have seen through global events such as COVID and the war in the Ukraine, the fragility of our food systems should be addressed by the private and public sectors together to stay ahead of challenges we will all face. In doing so, we cannot afford to lose sight of the ongoing need to prioritise sustainability in the production of food.” Andreas Sommer, Senior Director, BUNGE

Join agribusinesses, farm producers and technology innovators for more insights and partnership opportunities to meet the expectations of regulators from farm to fork. See the full program of live sessions here and book your ticket.