KU Leuven / Agricultural Economics
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Droughts and floods are already causing harvests to fail worldwide, and future impacts of climate change on agriculture pose great food security risks, especially in the poorest regions in the world. Climate change is one of the reasons why, after years of a downward trend, we observe again a rise in global hunger since 2014.
The agricultural sector is, however, not only affected by climate change, it also needs to take up an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
This is where the local vs. global debate comes to play. Today’s globalized agri-food trade places an enormous pressure on forests and other valuable ecosystems, yet is important in enabling flows from food surplus to food deficit regions. I am concerned about how we can create international food supply chains that limit further climate change while ensuring food security globally.
These concerns have led me to adopt certain habits to reduce my environmental footprint. On the work floor, I think three times before printing something and travel by bus or train whenever possible.
In my personal life, I aim in every setting for the most sustainable option. This includes choosing a green energy provider, using bike or public transport to travel, not buying new things if the old ones still function, eating largely vegetarian and avoiding food waste. Some things are straightforward, such as buying those vegetables in the supermarket that do not have plastic around them or recycling waste.
It becomes challenging, however, when the sustainable option takes more time, effort or money, or when it creates discussion with others. I hope that #Wechangeforlife will incentive many to step-by-step make changes in daily life such that we create a society where we no longer talk about the sustainable option, but the standard one.
To achieve this goal, we will not be able to get there on our own. Urgent action needed at the political level.
First, there is need of a strong irrevocable political will and motivation to tackle the problem. Too long it has not been a priority.
Second, we need a long-term strategy of how to do this in a fair, efficient and effective way. It will require cooperation and trust between all actors of society and a continuous effort from politicians and researchers to establish the right policy framework.