release n° 2/2017


an initiative by


“World has three years left to stop dangerous climate change, warn experts”. The headline of an article published June 29 in The Guardian perfectly summarizes the message of an open letter (published in the journal Nature) penned by experts from around the globe, including former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres. The message is twofold. On the one hand, it reminds us just how critical the planet's current climatic conditions are: “This year’s weather has beaten high temperature records in some regions, and 2014, 2015 and 2016 were the hottest years on record”, and it also highlights “the worst effects of climate change - devastating droughts, floods, heatwaves and irreversible sea level rises”.
On the other hand, it argues that not all is lost. Figueres, as UN climate chief when 195 countries adopted the Paris Agreement in December 2015, commented: “We stand at the doorway of being able to bend the emissions curve downwards by 2020, as science demands, in protection of the UN sustainable development goals, and in particular the eradication of extreme poverty… The opportunity given to us over the next three years is unique in history.
But to seize this opportunity, the signatories of the letter concluded, we will need “unprecedented effort and coordination from governments, businesses, citizens and scientists in the next three years.” 
This topic is at the heart of the second Food Sustainability Report, as climate change was catapulted into the international spotlight in the three months from April to June 2017, following two closely connected events:
    1. The G7 in Taormina, Italy (May 26-27), during which President Donald Trump mentioned the United States' intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement;
    2. The official announcement by Trump, just a few hours after returning home at the White House Rose Garden (June 1).
In addition, by making the connection as stated by Figueres between climate change and extreme poverty, this issue of the Food Sustainability Report looks at the current international debate over the relationship between climate change and migration. It is, undoubtedly, the most important social and economic consequence of extreme poverty and the most relevant topic in international, political, economic and social discourse today. 
The Focus On section of this report is dedicated to this very issue, with the following conclusions: environmental, food and migration sustainability are different facets of a single problem whose solution requires an integrated, informed approach “from governments, businesses, citizens and scientists”. Food sustainability, that is, the right for every person on the planet to have enough food that is both of good quality and consistently available, is a key factor to success.


Total mentions

(+27% FROM 1ST QUARTER 2017)

Unique author

(+46% FROM 1ST QUARTER 2017)

From April to June 2017, there were nearly 27,000 articles detected by our analysis platform, set to monitor the topics of food sustainability and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The topic of global warming was the center of attention for both the public and policy makers, legal experts, researchers, etc., following the United States’ decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change (487 citations).

Some of the most notable words captured by the system were “global warming” (with 1,240 mentions) and “China” (also 1,240), which, in a move seen by many as an attempt to replace the US as global leader, confirmed its dedication to the Paris Agreement along with just about the rest of the world (with the EU leading the pack). Continuing down the ranking of most-cited words, we come to “United States” (841), “FAO” (575) and “New York” (575). In the same way, the words “combat climate change” (310), “cut food waste” (265), “fighting climate change” (265) and “scientific consensus” (265) proved to be relevant. The abundance of reflection on climate change and its consequences in the economic and social life of the planet should be noted, including the phenomenon of migration, which involves a greater number of people every year.

Stefano Zamagni, full professor of Political Economy at the University of Bologna, adjunct professor of International Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University, Bologna Centre, and member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, shed some light on the subject: “Environmental sustainability, food sustainability and sustainability in terms of migration are the three points of today’s political-institutional triangle. There are two schools of thought, currently clashing in public debate on the topic. On one side, there are those who talk about a ‘trilemma’ in which only two of the three sustainability categories will actually be possible to achieve. For example, Donald Trump is willing to give up environmental sustainability so as not to jeopardize the other two; while in China, migratory sustainability certainly isn’t at the top of the political agenda. On the other side of the coin, there are those who have judged the trilemma theory deceptive, as it tends to be problematic. For years, the European Union has pursued the ambitious goal of keeping the three sustainability types grouped together in reciprocal balance, though not without its own set of difficulties and internal contradictions.” Zamagni's position on the subject is clear: “We are among those who deny the inevitable existence of the trilemma. It’s bad science (both social and natural) to make people believe in immovable trade-offs - otherwise, there would have been no need for the scientific revolution! What we urgently need is a far-reaching, in-depth cultural literacy campaign. There is too much chatter going on around this topic and too little truly science-based information. This is why”, he concluded, “the work that the BCFN is doing, with the important collaboration of the Milan Center for Food, Law and Politics, deserves support to help it progress down its chosen path and amplify its range of action.”

Livia Pomodoro, President of the Milan Center for Food Law and Policy, emphasized the consequences of recent events and the role which Italy can/must take on, given the context. “The discontinuity which U.S. President Donald Trump wanted to inscribe on the topic of climate agreements seems like a ‘hold it right there’ to the universal message sent from the COP21 in Paris, which luckily wasn’t followed by an abandonment of responsibility by other states. With the G7 in Taormina and the G7 Environment in Bologna, Italy had two meaningful chances to try to patch the rips in the fabric of enthusiasm, which we saw after COP 21. We have to continue”, Pomodoro explained, “to be protagonists, just as we were with Expo2015, when we proved we knew quite well how to connect the topic of food with its regulation, with the new, sustainable development that’s on the horizon and thus the protection of the planet. Italy”, Pomodoro concluded, “must launch its candidacy to host COP 26. That would immediately engage us in a powerful initiative to get back what seems to be lost and to put a new ambitious milestone in front of us. It would also mark our return to the environmental scene and all its related topics. Here, more than anywhere else, our responsibility for the future is clear.”


Today, agriculture produces 24% of all greenhouses gases. That is more than the industrial sector, which accounts for 21%, and transportation, 14% ( The Food Sustainability Index, developed by the BCFN in collaboration with the Economist Intelligence Unit, is a tool that compiles and updates a ranking of 25 of the world’s leading economies based on the sustainability of their food systems. The index is based on a set of 58 indicators, one of which is the “Environmental impact of agriculture on the atmosphere” (the scale ranges from zero to 100, where zero means the situation is critical). Looking at the ranking for this indicator, it’s clear just how long the road ahead is to reduce polluting emissions for some of the most populous countries in the world (including for the USA).

Occupying the last five places on the index are:

  • USA 59.07
  • BRAZIL 50.50
  • CHINA 50.00
  • INDIA 46.72
  • INDONESIA 44.22
To see all of the data CLICK HERE

ANALYSIS / Text analysis of the themes in focus

Hot topics

TOP NEWS / Vital news and documents

World has three years left to stop dangerous climate change, warn experts

Avoiding dangerous levels of climate change is still just about possible, but will require unprecedented effort and coordination from governments, businesses, citizens and scientists in the next three years, a group of prominent experts has warned.

One in 10 worldwide is obese, risking illness and death: Study

More than one in 10 people worldwide are now obese and 2.2 billion are believed to be overweight, fuelling a global health crisis that claims millions of lives every year, according to a major new international study

Drinking water crisis in Sudanese capitals

Since the beginning of the fasting month of Ramadan, the capitals of North Darfur, Red Sea and Blue Nile states are witnessing a severe shortage of drinking water. Residents of El Fasher, Port Sudan and Ed Damazin struggle to collect enough drinking water to break the fast.

Adopting the sustainable development goals is a business opportunity for Australia

Thanks to the abundance of natural resources needed to build roads, railways and skyscrapers in fast-growing cities across Asia, Australia’s economy has had an extraordinary period of uninterrupted economic growth - the longest in modern history. And now?

European Commission leader blasts Trump on climate plans

For the European Commission President it is the "duty of Europe" to stand up to the U.S. if President Donald Trump decides to pull his country out of the Paris climate change accord. JeanClaude Juncker said that "the Americans can't just get out of the agreement."

Migration problem will be an unwanted obstacle to the SDGs

We could be almost certain that attaining agenda 2030 of the SDGs faces a major hiccup, the migration of large numbers of displaced people in our world. Conflicts and other emergencies will be responsible for our falling short. 

Happy biodiversity day, planet Earth

Biological diversity is a technical way of describing all the amazing natural places and species on our one planet. Today is about encouraging all of us to discover how we can help to keep biodiversity thriving, not just for the wildlife we love but for people too.

EU biofuels policy: What is the impact on rural development?

EU farmers are “very concerned” about the impact of the European Commission’s change of heart on biofuels, claiming the EU’s restrictive policy is putting thousands of rural jobs at risk.

Two billion people drinking contaminated water: WHO

The World Health Organisation warned that hundreds of thousands of people die each year because they are forced to drink contaminated water, and urged large investments to help provide universal access to safe drinking water

Parliament calls for mandatory EU-wide food waste targets by 2020

EU lawmakers urged the European Commission to set binding EU-wide food waste reduction targets by 2020, to be met by 2025 and 2030. The ENVI voted unanimously in favor of an owninitiative report entitled “Resource efficiency: reducing food waste, improving food safety.”

In conversation with #WomeninAg: Josepha Ntakirutimana

Every month, USDA shares the story of a woman in agriculture who is leading the industry and helping other women succeed along the way. In honor of World Refugee Day, this month we hear from Josepha Ntakirutimana, a refugee from Rwanda who settled in Tucson, Arizona in 2013.

Eat well and stay safe this summer

Hart District Council is supporting the national Food Safety Week from Monday 19 June to Sunday 25 June to help encourage safe eating this summer. There are an estimated one million cases of food poisoning every year.

Pioneering partnership of 19 countries to tackle water and food shortages in the Mediterranean

A new Partnership on Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) will soon start to develop much-needed solutions for a more sustainable management of water and agro-food systems. A proposal to set up PRIMA was adopted in a vote in the European Parliament plenary meeting.

Innovative solutions to solve city water shortages

The rise in the number of people living in cities - predicted to reach 80 % by 2020 - coupled with climate change is straining Europe's water supplies. An EU-funded project has demonstrated innovative technologies and approaches to tackle water scarcity.

Open data revolution to fight global hunger

Every day, people around the world use data to make decisions. We have a global, comprehensive, open data set that enables weather forecasting, why don’t we have something similar for food and agriculture?

Horizon 2020 - achievements so far and next steps

An assessment of the first three years of Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme, shows that during the period 2014-2030 it is projected to create up to 35,000 jobs in the research sector alone and tackle big challenges like Ebola and the Zika virus.

USDA invests $7.4 million for research on food crops and animals

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced 9 grants totaling $7.4 million for advanced research to develop more resilient and nutritious crops and food animals. The funding is made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative program.

Agriculture figures prominently in new framework for EU-Africa relations

A new strategic partnership between the EU and Africa was launched on 4 May with agriculture one of the main pillars of the new strategy. The agri-food sector is seen as a key area through which the EU can support rural and urban development in Africa.

EC acts to improve nature protection

The European Commission has agreed a new action plan to improve the protection of nature and biodiversity in the EU. The Commission is also asking the UK to implement EU environmental laws on the conservation of blanket bogs.

Government has no clear plan for Global Goals in UK

The Environmental Audit Committee criticises the UK Government. Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Committee, said: "The Government seems to regard the Goals as a developing world issue and has no clear plan to implement them domestically.”

International AGENCIES & NGOs
Getting more good food to market in sub-Saharan Africa: five observations

Every year, a third of the world’s food - 1.2 billion metric tons - is either lost or wasted. This has both economic and environmental consequences, but many are investing in increasing efficiencies within value chains and so reducing the amount of good food that is being wasted.

Falling aid for education putting global goals at risk, warns UN agency

Against the backdrop of aid allocations to education falling for the sixth year in a row, the United Nations agency mandated with promoting education globally has called on the donor community to focus more attention on the vital sector, especially in countries where needs are the greatest.

UN Ocean Conference opens with calls for united action to reverse human damage

Speaking in the UN General Assembly Hall, Secretary-General António Guterres cautioned Governments that unless they overcome short-term territorial and resource interests, the state of the oceans will continue to deteriorate.

G7 recognizes persistent inequalities, does not reach consensus on climate

The 2017 Summit of the G7 issued a Leaders’ Communiqué and adopted the G7 Roadmap on a Gender-Responsive Economic Environment, a G7 People-Centered Action Plan on Innovation, Skills and Labor, and the G7 Taormina Statement on the Fight Against Terrorism and Violent Extremism.

Global growth strengthens in line with economic forecasts, but prospects for some of world’s poorest regions deteriorate: UN report

Growth in the global economy has picked up in the last six months in line with expectations, but in many regions, growth remains below the levels needed for achieving the SDG’s, according to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects as of mid-2017 report.

New compost plant to aid the greening of Ghana’s economy by recycling waste and delivering a safe, nutrient-rich fertilizer for food production

An alliance of public and private sector partners launched the JVL Fortifer Compost Plant in the community of Borteyman in the Greater Accra area. Based on research carried out by the IWMI, the plant will contribute to improving urban sanitation, and helping boost farm productivity

FAO and World Bank step up partnership to end hunger and poverty

The two organizations will work closely together to support the member countries in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, improve rural livelihoods, enhance efficiency of food production and distribution, and ensure sustainable management of natural resources worldwide.

EU publishes Urban Water Atlas

The EU published its first ‘Urban Water Atlas for Europe,’ which provides an overview in 40 European cities. The atlas provides a ‘Blue City Index’ that ranks cities’ performance on water management against 25 indicators related to water, waste and climate change.

New WFP report finds food insecurity accelerates global migration

The report determined that each one percentage increase in food insecurity in a population compels 1.9 percent more people to migrate per 1,000 population. Further, 0.4 percent more people per 1,000 population flee a country for each additional year of conflict.

108 million people in the world face severe food insecurity - situation worsening

This dramatic increase compared with 80 million in 2015 emerges from a new global report on food crises, whose compilation represents a new and politically innovative collaboration between the European Union and USAID/FEWSNET.

A new path to policy: Colombia’s participatory climate leadership

An assessment of IFPRI’s contribution to shaping Colombia’s path to meet its Paris targets provides useful lessons on incorporating research into policy-making. Colombia has created a novel and inclusive process that brought together policy makers, researchers, and the private sector

19-year-olds as sedentary as 60-year-olds, study suggests

Physical activity among children and teens is lower than previously thought, and, in another surprise finding, young adults after the age of 20 show the only increases in activity over the lifespan, suggests a study conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Why agricultural research investment lags in Africa south of the Sahara

The latest data collection and analysis from Africa south of the Sahara by the IFPRI-led Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) exposes a persistent problem: growth in research spending is lower than for other kinds of agricultural investment.

Reducing US cardiovascular disease burden and disparities through national and targeted dietary policies: A modelling study

Fiscal strategies targeting diet might substantially reduce cardiovascular disease burdens. A national 10% food and vegetables (F&V) subsidy would save by far the most lives, while a 30% F&V subsidy would most reduce socio-economic disparities.

Methods proposed to evaluate the potential impact of climate change on food and nutrition security in central America and the Dominican Republic

A new CCAFS paper examines the interconnectedness between climate change and food and nutrition security in Latin America and offers a suite of methods for measuring how they affect one another.

Policy solutions for Sri Lanka’s emerging food safety issues

Like other South Asian nations, Sri Lanka’s population has grown significantly in recent years, most notably in urban areas. IFPRI’s 2017 Global Food Policy Report focuses on how urbanization is changing food, health, and development.

Insurgency, terrorism and organised crime in a warming climate - A summary

As the climate changes, so too do the conditions in which non-state armed groups operate. The complex risks presented by conflicts, climate change and increasingly fragile geophysical and sociopolitical conditions can contribute to the emergence and growth of non-state armed groups

Implementation Roadmaps: third report released

The WWC, in collaboration with Korea Water Forum and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of the Republic of Korea have released the third edition of the Progress Report on Implementation Roadmaps, two years since the 7th World Water Forum took place in April 2015.

Leveling the field for biofuels: comparing the economic and environmental impacts of biofuel and other export crops in Malawi

Biofuel production can have conflicting impacts on economic growth, food and energy security, and natural resources. Understanding these trade-offs is crucial for designing policies that are consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Association between clinically recorded alcohol consumption and initial presentation of 12 cardiovascular diseases: population based cohort study using linked health records

The findings from the most comprehensive study to date of the relation between alcohol consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, indicate that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of initially presenting with several, but not all, cardiovascular diseases.



In May 2017, the World Food Program published “At the root of exodus: food security, conflict and international migration”. The aim of this study is to explore the reasons why individuals migrate, especially in a time where even if the overall percentage of migrants has remained stable, (nearly 3% of the global population), the pure numbers have grown to 244 million people in 2015 (due to the increasing population of the planet) … 
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