25 July 2019

Pathways to sustainable land use and food systems: First FABLE Consortium report launched

The Food, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Land, and Energy (FABLE) Consortium has released its first report, titled “Pathways to Sustainable Land Use and Food Systems”.

© Andrii Yalanskyi | Dreamstime.com

© Andrii Yalanskyi | Dreamstime.com

About 18 months ago, the FABLE Consortium was launched as a global network of knowledge institutions from developing and developed countries, with the aim to advance the understanding of long-term strategies that facilitate the transformation towards sustainable food and land use systems. The FABLE Secretariat is jointly hosted by IIASA and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), working also closely with EAT and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). While managed independently, FABLE is also part of the Food and Land Use Coalition, which brings together a broad range of stakeholders to advance transitions towards sustainable food and land use systems.

Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the objectives of the Paris Agreement will require reconciling multiple social, economic, and environmental objectives. The FABLE consortium’s first collective report recognizes that substantial transformations of human systems are necessary to sustainably secure basic human needs and advance human welfare, while managing the risks from global environmental change. The report includes contributions from 18 country teams, including the EU. It presents an overview of the state of the food and land use system and key sustainability concerns, and then discusses initial country level modeling results in terms of their collective implications for global sustainability concerns.

The report recommends that a transition towards integrated land use and food systems should rest on three pillars: i) efficient and resilient agricultural systems, ii) conservation and restoration of biodiversity, and iii) food security and healthy diets. To identify solutions, it is furthermore important that actions are embedded in a strategic decision-making context, which facilitates the transition from individual efforts to broad level scale-up and transformation. This includes recognizing the multi-facetted implications that international trade can have on land use and food systems in countries.

An integral part of the FABLE Consortium’s focus is on strengthening the analytical capacities of countries to carry out integrated assessments, while also emphasizing collaborative approaches that operate across scales. Taking a long-term time horizon to explore the implications of strategic decisions, the aim is to delineate the solution space for sustainable development pathways, which realize national development aspirations while also accounting for globally agreed targets.

FABLE country teams. The 2019 report draws on the contributions of multi-sectoral teams representing 17 countries and covering the EU (dark green). A team from South Africa (light green) recently joined FABLE and will participate in future activities.

Guided by these collective targets and taking into account national development aspirations, country teams then set out to frame national development pathways until the middle of the century. For this purpose, FABLE provides a model-aided environment for scenario development, integrated analysis, and stakeholder dialogue, allowing for an iterative process, which enables countries to make joint progress towards their collectively agreed targets.

This represents a first effort by country teams, combining multi-sectoral expertise and collaborating to identify national pathways towards sustainable land use and food systems, while also aiming to achieve consistency with global objectives. The first results of these integrated scenario and development pathway planning exercises, called Scenathons, are discussed in the report. Four out of five collective global targets were achieved in this modeling effort by country teams: average energy intake exceeds minimum dietary energy requirement in all FABLE countries by 2030; zero net global deforestation is projected from 2030 onwards; net greenhouse gas emissions from land use are negative by 2050; and over 50% of global terrestrial land can be dedicated to conserving and restoring biodiversity. The findings should be treated as preliminary, but they offer initial insights that underscore the potential of collaborative, analytical efforts to resolve trade-offs and harness synergies between multiple objectives.

Click here to access the report.

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Last edited: 26 July 2019


Frank Sperling

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Ecosystems Services and Management

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Michael Obersteiner

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Ecosystems Services and Management

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IIASA and SDSN (2019) Pathways to Sustainable Land-Use and Food Systems

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
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