Publication / 02 Jun 2015

Reality Bites: Facing up to the Global Food Production Challenge

Trucost’s sector briefing examines how we can use natural capital accounting to answer some of the big questions around sustainable food production.

Global food production faces a challenging landscape of rising input costs, climate change, health concerns, social inequality, resource competition and ecosystem degradation. This briefing examines how companies can use natural capital accounting to better understand and account for these impacts with the ultimate goal of putting agriculture on a more sustainable footing.

Many decisions over agricultural production methods do not account for the value of these critical services, due in part to the lack of a market price or the effect of perverse incentives. Many of the decisions made on farm intensification and water irrigation, for example, provide short-term financial gain but can erode the natural capital on which long-term, sustainable food production depends.

Even where a market price is applied to a provisioning service, it often does not reflect the true value of a service, as is the case with the price paid for water and its inverse relationship to availability in many countries. Much continues to be done to understand these issues by the research and scientific communities, but the data generated needs to be converted into the dominant language of economics and policy to support real action and change across businesses, governments and investors.

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