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FOODSECURE Report Summary

Project ID: 290693
Funded under: FP7-SSH
Country: Netherlands

Periodic Report Summary 3 - FOODSECURE (Exploring the Future of Global Food and Nutrition Security)

Project Context and Objectives:
1.1 Project context and the main objectives

While the issue of food and nutrition security (hereafter: FNS) has been extensively studied, a more systematic, thorough approach is needed to assess, predict, and ultimately achieve the complex state of food and nutrition security. Traditional approaches which look only at narrow definitions of food supply and demand are inadequate to address the FNS multi-dimensionality, which can only be understood within a larger societal context. In addition to the population growth, income distribution and resource constraints, newly recognized challenges in the form of climate change, speculation and biomass demand for non-food uses, to name just a few, have further muddled an already complex food system.

A long term policy framework on FNS is required for enhancing the resilience of the food system to volatility, both economic and climatic. The price spikes of the past years, with widespread effects on nutrition and diet quality, have reinforced the importance of providing proper guidance. An integral part of this framework is a “Green Growth” strategy which incorporates both FNS and sustainable agricultural growth at a fundamental level. In short, the immense societal challenges of satisfying world food needs requires a wide-ranging reassessment of the problems relating to food and nutritional security, and a re-conceptualization of the approaches to solving those problems.

FNS challenges go far beyond aggregate supply and demand factors. Critical needs include:
• An overview and catalogue of the risks and uncertainties of the drivers of the changing food system and an understanding of the determinants of food and nutrition security.
• A comprehensive analytical framework for assessing future changes to FNS which better incorporates the relationship of the food system to the other systems: for instance, ecosystems, energy markets and financial markets, all of which can provide potential sources of shocks that will disrupt the food system (UK Foresight, 2011, Agrimonde, 2011).
• In addition, along with expert scientific views and recommendations, stakeholder perceptions and insights must form an intricate part of the framework.

The objective of the FOODSECURE project is to design effective and sustainable strategies for addressing and assessing the short- and long-term challenges of food and nutrition security. The project will provide a variety of analytical tools to experiment, analyse, and coordinate policies. In doing so, the research will inform the decision-making process of a broad range of stakeholders in the EU and developing countries on consistent, coherent, long-term strategies to improve global FNS.

FOODSECURE will identify questions related to FNS by revisiting and advancing theory, recasting and testing evidence, rigorous analyses and stakeholder participation. Within the overall aim of increasing the capacity of stakeholders to design effective and sustainable actions to address
acute hunger crises and long term challenges in the world food system (comp. Figure 1, same as Figure 1.2, DOW Part B, p. 6).

Figure 1. FOODSECURE Research Strategy

In order to respond to the research challenges in an integrated fashion, three modules are defined within the FOODSECURE research: Determinants, Future and Guidance. Figure 1 shows how these modules interact. The research process is organized into several work packages, as indicated in Figure 1, each of which has important interactions with other work packages.

The above-mentioned challenges and objectives translate into a focussed scientific agenda for the project:

1. Determinants of hunger and malnutrition
• Integrate food prices and income in the analysis of FNS drivers and indicators.
• Analyze role of agricultural innovation systems, and the impact of agricultural and trade policies on FNS.
2. Price volatility modelling toolbox
• Investigate effects of excessive price volatility on the poor and FNS.
• Propose an early warning system and policy analysis tools to test crisis response.
3. Long-term modelling toolbox
• Set fundamentals of global agricultural markets in an integrated assessment framework.
• Use the long-term modelling toolbox to model technologies, climate change, and competition over scarce natural resources.
4. Food crisis surveillance and management
• Develop a surveillance system for food price volatility and price spikes.
• Pre-test policy responses to mitigate risk and for crisis management.
5. Policies for food security and sustainable development
• Analyse the role of sustainable agricultural intensification in saving protected areas and maintain ecosystem services.
• Make proposals for alignment of EU policies with developing country strategies to improve FNS.
6. Vision development and stakeholder engagement
• Integrate stakeholders‘ views on future scenarios for FNS, towards 2050, through participatory research and foresight analysis
7. Pooling data and modelling resources
• Make key research results accessible and present them in a user friendly format, facilitating th interaction between modelling tools and stakeholders.

Project Results:
1.1 Description of the work performed

Addressing short- and long-term challenges of global food and nutrition security entails putting the right policies and strategies in place. In the context of the FOODSECURE project, this involves analysing drivers of global FNS and drawing suitable conclusions based on empirical evidence from different countries and regions of the world. This facilitates the calibration of models and interpretation of results from case studies, and also provides guidance on the selection of case studies The analysis of drivers of global FNS has been an important part of the work in the first one and a half year of FOODSECURE during which the focus of the project was on developing the conceptual framework, supplemented by various analyses of drivers, indicators and food security concepts. In this first period, FOODSECURE research teams have revisited the common understanding of the drivers and indicators of FNS and the potential linkages between economic, social and environmental factors of risk to food and nutrition security.

In the second reporting period, FOODSECURE entered a new phase. In the period August 2013- August 2014 the focus has been – among other things - on three major themes. First, to build a more conclusive evidence base on the impact of a range of drivers on FNS; second, to engage stakeholders in FOODSECURE; third, to develop a modelling toolbox to better capture and quantify impacts on food and nutrition security of various policies.

These activities have continued in the third reporting period. In the third reporting period, the work on the evidence base (the Determinants module) has been finished and a large number of deliverables from the guidance-module has been delivered. The engagement of the stakeholders has been secured through the two visions & options workshops that were held in December 2014 and February 2015. The modelling work has entered the last phase, but finalization of the work is still pending.

Scientific Outcomes
Since the start of the FOODSECURE project, research teams have been keeping track with their envisaged research goals. Besides producing 48 deliverables (14 in the first reporting period, an additional 7 in the second reporting period, 27 in the third reporting period) and a considerable number of FOODSECURE publications (see Annex A), much has been done to set up a collaborative and productive research network for addressing and assessing the short- and long-term challenges of food and nutrition security. Main issues tackled in the scientific outcomes of the project in month 31-48 are summarized below.

More conclusive evidence base on the causalities underpinning FNS
Addressing short- and long-term challenges of global food and nutrition security entails putting the right policies and strategies in place. This motivates the consortium to analyse drivers of global FNS and draw suitable conclusions based on empirical evidence from different countries and regions of the world.
It has become clear that many of the drivers of FNS are still poorly understood, like the influence of the political regime, of culture, religion and tradition and of discrimination and social exclusion. Other work highlights the need to make sure that a country’s basic institutions are in place (like education, health care) before innovations – institutional or technical – can be effective. Also, technological innovations alone (e.g. improved varieties, GM crops, (precision) mechanization, etc.) will not ensure FNS sustainably. Managerial and institutional innovations, both focusing strongly on the local context and actors, hold a high potential for impact on FNS at the global scale.

Fluctuating food prices (volatility) are to some extent a natural phenomenon, what matters more for FNS are abrupt and unanticipated price changes that prevail for several months. On the other hand, long term market drivers of FNS such as food prices, or aggregate supply and demand can have positive or negative impacts depending on the characteristics of the specific households.

A rapidly growing number of empirical micro-studies confirm that farmers and rural households have benefited from high food prices when urban consumers were hurt. There is much heterogeneity however at the national and regional levels – and among households.

Although prices for farm output serve as an incentive to improve global crop supply as expected, output price volatility acts as a disincentive. Output price volatility has negative correlations with crop supply, implying that farmers shift land, other inputs, and yield-improving investments to crops with less volatile prices.

Case studies and ground-proofing
Food insecurity and malnutrition typically require national solutions that fit within the global context. How do the EU’s decisions interact with FNS strategies and policies in the countries affected by food insecurity and malnutrition? FOODSECURE analyzes the interaction between developing country policies and global market dynamics, across various scales and time horizons. Several case studies have been undertaken to deliver an empirical analysis at the (multi-) country or sub-national level in which the interplay of domestic and international policies is being examined with regard to the impact on one or more dimensions of FNS.

- Stabilizing domestic cereal markets
case studies on wheat markets in India demonstrate the challenges of adapting a system of storage and price stabilisation in the context of complicated agricultural and food distribution policies and social protection. Although there is a clear rationale for intervention, the benefits of producer and consumer support policies need to be balanced against their explicit costs and the burden of inefficiency that they entail.

- Responding to climate change and volatile markets:
As farm-gate prices become more uncertain, the value of reliable market information rises. Farmers in Ethiopia who invest more in acquiring better price information and who reside closer to major town markets were more likely to have smaller price forecasting error margins. Climate risk was observed to affect maize intensification among smallholders in Kenya. The use of hybrid seed and fertilizer in maize production contributes positively to crop revenues, also reduced exposure to revenue variability and must be considered as an element in proper adaptation to climate change.

- Domestic policies and aid effectiveness.
FNS policies in Ethiopia and Burkina Faso feature strong inertia around agricultural production issues and have difficulties to address the multidimensionality of FNS. Intersectoral coordination is made difficult by the FNS institutional framework, which is not conducive to the debate of competing visions of FNS and is increasingly fragmented between agriculture, nutrition and social agendas. A case study of the governance around FNS aid spending in Ethiopia found strong elements of coordination by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture (MoA). Donors' interventions are aligned with domestic strategies through a specific coordination body (RED&FS). Donors also use this body as a platform to advocate for changes in the Ethiopian's FNS policy.

Engaging stakeholders
The engagement of stakeholders is an important factor in FOODSECURE. In the exploration of plausible futures, the inclusion of perspectives from stakeholders provides not only important information for the process, but also creates the potential for higher relevance of the process results for stakeholders. The identification and selection of stakeholders that will participate in the participatory scenario development process has been carried out in 2012. In September 2013 and February 2014 two scenario workshops have been organised during which participatory scenarios have been developed. In December 2014 and February 2015 two ‘vision & options’-workshops have taken place. The aim of these workshops was to help attending stakeholders develop their own shared vision of food and nutrition security in 2050, and to come up with options for action and, ultimately, for policy-making.

Scenario storylines elaborated
A major achievement was the completion of (1) elaborate scenario storylines that were developed using a participatory approach and (2) a database that quantified the important drivers underlying the scenarios, which can be used for modelling. Figure 2 below shows the four FOODSECURE scenarios and their position in the scenario matrix. The stakeholders decided to organize the scenarios around two axes that highlight two major uncertainties for the future of FNS: (1) lifestyle and use of natural resources ranging from a sustainable to an unsustainable world and (2) equality, with the two polar views of an equal and a highly unequal world. Together, they define for different scenarios: 1% World (ONEPW), Ecotopia (ECO), Too little, too late (TLTL) and Food for all but not forever (FFANF). FOODSECURE working paper 38 summarises these results. A preliminary version was presented during the ICAE conference in Milan (August 2015).
The four scenarios have been projected to 2050 with consideration to a large number of differentiated drivers, among which: population, GDP, diet preferences, yield development, land use constraints, trade patterns (see Figure 3a,b,c).

Figure 2: Scenario logic of the FOODSECURE scenarios

Source: van Dijk et al. FOODSECURE Working Paper no. 38, Jan. 2016
Figure 3a, b, c: Comparison with scenario drivers
(a) GDP

(b) Population

(c) Yield

Source: van Dijk et al. FOODSECURE Working Paper no. 38, Jan. 2016

Development of long-term models
One of the key outputs of FOODSECURE is the methodological framework for the assessment of food and nutrition security, including linking the bottom-up and top-down models into a toolbox of long-term models that can capture and quantify drives and outcomes of future food and nutrition security. The completion of the Toolbox 2050 marks the end of the extension phase of the development of the long-term modelling Toolbox (see Figure 1) which has resulted in an enhanced Toolbox for use in scenario projections and policy analysis. The deliverable covers eight model extensions as identified in D7.1, to capture and quantify impacts on Food and Nutrition Security. Specifically, improving the representation of technical change, dietary change and climate change as drivers of FNS; improving the indicators of FNS by including nutrition indicators; improving model linkages in terms of the demand system and the representation of land availability and a special section on model validation to compare demand behaviour and responses and comparisons with historical data. Efforts to validate the models showed the models to be better at projecting the future than trend extrapolation and a model comparison exercise allows for fine-tuning and improving the baselines and parameters of the models. Finalization of the Toolbox 2050 has been achieved in May 2016.
Figure 1. Methodological framework for the long-term modelling toolbox (D7.1)

Aligning EU policies with global FNS
Various global and EU policies have impact on the challenges of eliminating hunger and malnutrition in the low and middle income countries. In the final stages of the project we will build on the advanced insight into the causes of food insecurity and on the advanced modelling toolbox to identify options for aligning EU policy strategies with global FNS. Policy domains with major potential impact and bearing on FNS include agriculture and commodity markets, trade agreements, renewable energy, climate financing (REDD), development cooperation/aid, R&D and innovation.

Potential Impact:
1.1 Description of the expected final results and their potential impact and use

Expected results and impact
The FOODSECURE project will make a large number of significant scientific contributions, and also seeks to build bridges to the policy community. The policy areas addressed include agricultural and trade policies, natural resource management and climate change policies, and science and technology policies. The following three innovations in the project will have an important impact for decision makers in these areas of policy making:
(a) To have a deeper understanding of the determinants and different levels of causality that underpin global food and nutrition security;
(b) To improve the ability of decision makers to foresee and respond to future food and nutrition security crises on the basis of improved quantification of short term price volatility and long term drivers of FNS, in close interaction with stakeholders;
(c) To give guidance to stakeholders which will allow them to take effective and sustainable actions include the identification of the critical pathways for policies, technological and institutional change for sustainable agricultural growth and enhancement of food and nutrition security.

The targeted audience consists of policy makers and other stakeholders in the EU and regional organization in developing countries facing food insecurity. Dissemination work is bundled into an easy to use interface between stakeholders and state-of-the-art research results (“Navigator”). It will primarily be oriented towards EU decision makers, by informing them on an EU policy mix that is in line with the goals of reducing hunger and malnutrition.

List of Websites:

Related information


Thom Achterbosch, (Researcher, Division International Policy (LEI))
Tel.: +31 70 3358194
Fax: +31 70 3358196


Record Number: 195568 / Last updated on: 2017-03-14