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World on a Plate
Developing a global food system to deliver food security and access to nutritionally adequate diets for a growing population, while reducing environmental damage, is one of greatest challenges facing us today. Food security tends to focus on providing sufficient food to eliminate hunger, through expansion of agricultural land and increasing yields. Historically less attention has been given to the quality of the food being produced and the nutritional needs of the population. In the fifth article in our Food Security and Climate Change series, Dr. Jennie Macdiarmid of the University of Aberdeen argues that today’s food system needs to go beyond the quantity of food and food security to incorporate the quality of what we eat and our nutritional security.
International Pi Day
Pi Day is celebrated today, 14 March, round the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159. Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern.
Little girl standing by fruit stand
Mitigating food insecurity and the dangerous effects of climate change are the two biggest challenges facing humanity today. Thomas Malthus proposed in 1803 that human population increases exponentially whilst food production grows at an arithmetic rate, and thus predicted widespread food shortages. Unless 50 per cent more food, 50 per cent more energy and 30 per cent more freshwater are available by 2030, simultaneous shortages of all of these would be on a global, catastrophic scale.
Agricultural machinery
Climate change poses a threat to food security. This threat was first recognised primarily through the direct impact of climate on crop yields. However, the relatively simple framing of climate altering yields and, by implication the availability of food, captures only a small part of the problem.
Emigration, identity, loss and exclusion: these are all themes award winning novelist Colm Tóibín explores in his work, and on Thursday, 11 February 2016 he paid a visit to the United Nations bookshop to talk about his novel Brooklyn, which includes many of these themes, and has now been made into an Academy Award nominated film.  
'The world needs science and science needs women,' says UN on new International Day
11 February 2016 – More than ever today, the world needs science and science needs women, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said today marking the first 
3 women tending to agricultural fields
Most of our food is grown on the land, so there has always been a close link between the delivery of food security and land use. In the era before industrial fertilisers, improved crop cultivars and modern livestock breeds, producing more food largely meant converting more land to agriculture. Historically, the expansion of agriculture into forests and natural ecosystems has contributed significantly to the loss of ecosystem services. Much of this loss of forest and other natural systems occurred many centuries ago in Europe, East Asia, South Asia and parts of Africa, but has occurred more recently in North America and the populated parts of Oceania.
Bare desert scene
In the next 30 years, food supply and food security will be severely threatened if little or no action is taken to address climate change and the food system’s vulnerability to climate change. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the extent of climate change impacts on individual regions will vary over time, and different societal and environmental systems will have varied abilities to mitigate or adapt to change.
Women buying vegetables at fruit stall
With the population predicted to increase to over 9.6 billion people by 2050, and food demand set to increase by between 60 and 100 per cent, the topic of increasing agricultural output to feed the growing population whilst reducing our global footprint is by far one of the biggest challenges society faces today.
SDSN logo
Combating hunger, poverty, climate change, and gender inequality while promoting good health, education, clean water and sanitation, and decent work and economic growth are just a few of the aims of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).