release n° 02/2017

aprile - giugno

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ANALYSIS / Text analysis of the themes in focus

GLOBAL WARMING, CLIMATE CHANGE, FOOD SECURITY, THE PARIS AGREEMENTS, PROTECTING BIODIVERSITY: THE HOT TOPICS OF THE SECOND QUARTER OF 2017.

In the second quarter of 2017 - as explained in depth on the Home Page - the topic of Climate Change occupied the lion’s share of the debate on food, sustainability and nutrition, in all the areas monitored by the Report: MEDIA, LEGISLATION, INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES & NGOs, and RESEARCH.

Another issue which received a lot of attention was Food Security, due to the continuation of the serious crises ravaging countries such as Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and North-East Nigeria, to name but a few (for more information, see Focus On in N°1 of the Report). The topic with the third highest number of mentions - especially in the MEDIA category - was Biodiversity, or more specifically, the risks connected to the “Loss of Biodiversity”.

Among the other topics discussed, the websites of INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES & NGOs also focused on the “Sustainable Development Goals” and “Food Safety”; while the websites of Government and Legislative bodies gave significant attention to “Food Safety” and the “Common Agricultural Policy”.

Media

The topic of “Climate Change” made up 75% of the total mentions (21,402) during the second quarter of 2017 on media websites. Over time, this trend increased from May onwards as the upcoming G7 summit, held in Taormina on 26 and 27 May, raised the issue of the US Administration’s policy change, leading eventually to the official announcement of the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.
The debate on “Climate Change” (which recorded a total of 16,033 mentions) included terms such as “Trump Administration”, “United States”, “Paris Agreement”, “White House”, etc., but also featured “China” (mentioned 908 times) and “Chinese”. Indeed, China took the position of defending the Paris Agreement, in contrast to the USA and in line with most other countries around the world (especially EU countries) giving it a renewed and strengthened role on the international political stage.
The topic of “Food Security” (800 mentions, 3.7% of the total) was mainly associated with those countries suffering from food shortages. The frequency of the word “Kenya” is due to the appearance, in mid-April, of the Fall Armyworm (FAW, Spodoptera Frugiperda), a larva wreaking havoc on the country because when it reproduces it can destroy an entire harvest. In particular, it attacks corn plantations which is Kenya’s staple food, thus seriously jeopardising the food security of the country.
The topic of “Biodiversity” (634 mentions, 3% of the total) is often featured alongside “China” and “Australia”. In the case of China, this is due to the levels of deforestation and water pollution from which it continues to suffer. This is compounded by the poor conditions of the South China Sea, which in recent years has seen an overexploitation of its fish stocks.
Here are the top 10 online media outlets which focused on these topics.

Legislation

“Climate change” was also the most frequently mentioned topic on websites of Government and Legislative bodies, closely followed by “Food Safety” (which together amounted to almost 50% of the total mentions). In third place was “Common Agricultural Policy”, just ahead of “Biodiversity”.
The term which most frequently appears in connection with Climate Change (mentioned 264 times, 27.3% of the total mentions) is “Greenhouse Gas Emissions”, mainly linked to the Paris Agreement and EU legislation on the matter. An analysis over time shows that most of the terms appeared after the G7 summit in Taormina, when the position of the EU on the issue was made extremely clear following a statement from the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.
The topic of “Food Safety” was raised 210 times over the period (21.6% of the total mentions) connected to the following issues:

It is important to highlight the prominent role of agencies like the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) and the Committee of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), the Commission of the European Parliament on the matter.

Still within the sphere of the EU, the topic of “Common Agricultural Policy” was the third most frequently mentioned (102 mentions, 10.6% of the total). The term is mainly associated with the following topics:

In particular, the term “Farmers” is generally associated with legislation on the regulation of the agricultural sector and the protection of those working in it.

Below are the 10 websites of government and legislative bodies which most frequently discussed the trending topics. As was already explained in the previous Food Sustainability Report, europarl.europa.eu/portal/en alone features over half of the total mentions. Indeed, the website guarantees full coverage of the activities carried out by the 750 elected members of the Parliament in Strasbourg.

International AGENCIES & NGOs

“Climate Change” and “Food Security” were also, in that order, the two most frequently mentioned topics on websites of International Agencies and NGOs, amounting to over 55% of the 2,218 mentions overall. However, it is important to note that third position is occupied by the “Sustainable Development Goals”. The target of achieving these goals by 2030 provides a framework for the activities of these organisations (see below for more information).
With regard to the topic of “Climate Change”, the Paris Agreement received the most attention. Closer analysis of this keyword shows that the most frequently raised issues are Agenda 2030 and the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement.
The theme of “Food Security” (mentioned 388 times, 17.1% of the total) is mainly associated with a number of documents released by international organisations including the FAO, the UN, the IFPRI and the World Bank. It is also worth noting (as also highlighted by the previous Report) that some of the most frequently associated words are verbs of actions (policies) which need to be carried out in order to successfully tackle the challenges of “Reducing Poverty”, “Improving Nutrition”, “Enhancing Food Security”, and so on.
The topic of the “Sustainable Development Goals”, with 235 mentions (10.6% of the total), focuses attention, above all, on the FAO and the 17 SDGs signed on 25 September 2015 at the UN Summit on sustainable development held in Milan during Expo2015. This marked a genuine paradigm shift, with a convergence of all the key strategies of countries around the world towards one common objective: creating a model of sustainable development.
In this context, the key role of the agro-food systems was raised once again. Not only does Goal 2 aim to “end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture”, but the other goals also raise the issue of food, and how it is produced, distributed and consumed.

Research

During the second quarter of 2017, research institutions’ websites also mainly discussed the topic of “Climate Change” (in over 55% of cases), followed some way behind by “Food Security” and “Biodiversity”.
The topic of “Climate Change” received a total of 1,101 mentions (56.9% of the total), and news connecting Climate Change and Food Security was a key point of focus. Special attention was also given to views of “Climate Change Deniers” which, although in a minority in the scientific community, have gained ground and coverage along with developments in the political sphere on this matter.
References to “Food Security” (303, 15.7% of the total) are mainly associated with research institutions and programmes.
Mentions of the term “Biodiversity” (82, 4.2% of the total) show a clear link with climate change and projects for the protection and study of endangered species. Furthermore, the trend over time shows a spike in interest towards the end of the quarter.
Finally, the 10 websites in our analysis which most frequently mentioned the issues described above are as follows.
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