Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Decision-making tools

This section contains links to methods and tools that can aid decision making for various actors, from dietary impact modelling tools, web-portals gathering evidence from case studies in particular regions, to step-by-step guidance to situation appraisal and programme design for nutrition-sensitive agriculture.

Image: Good Free Photos, Barn on farmland at Prophetstown State Park, Indiana, CC0 Public Domain
16 October 2018

A feature in the New Food Economy explores how the difficulty of finding farmland at an affordable price presents a barrier to new farmers in the United States. Two online tools have been developed to help farmers find land: Farm to Farmer, which matches farm owners to land seekers, and the Finding Farmland Calculator, which aims to demystify the costs of owning farmland.

Image: World Resources Institute, Two farmers in Brazil with their acerola berry harvest, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
16 October 2018

FCRN member Ken Giller has co-authored a paper that reviews the targets and indicators used to measure the second sustainable development goal (SDG-2), i.e. the pursuit of global food security and agricultural sustainability. The paper concludes that the UN’s current set of targets and indicators for SDG-2 are not universally applicable, and proposes a revised set of indicators.

Image: Sonja Pieper, Ploughing a rice field in South India, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
8 October 2018

Rice cultivation emits methane and nitrous oxide, which are both more potent greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide. Policies to reduce methane emissions from rice farming generally recommend using intermittent (as opposed to continuous) flooding. However, intermittent flooding could produce much higher nitrous oxide emissions than continuous flooding, according to a recent paper.

Image: Vieve Forward, Tractor spreading fertilizer(?) near Down Barn, Geograph, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
2 October 2018

The cost-effectiveness of different methods of cutting agricultural greenhouse gas emissions is often calculated using marginal abatement cost curves (MACCs). FCRN member Dominic Moran of the University of Edinburgh has quantified the uncertainties in calculating MACCs for Scottish agricultural mitigation options, including improving land drainage, improving the timing of nitrogen application, and using controlled release fertilisers. The paper suggests that policymakers may wish to exclude options that have a high uncertainty, as they may not always be as cost-effective as the MACC suggests.

25 September 2018

The UK’s Eating Better alliance has launched a new video exploring how to eat “Less and better” meat, where the alliance defines “better” as being better for the environment, health and food workers. The video explains several different labels that can be found on meat, including the Red Tractor, organic, free range, and RSPCA assured.

25 September 2018

This report from the UK’s International Institute for Environment and Development explores the importance of generating evidence by and with low-income citizens when developing policies for food systems and diets. The report points out that the informal economy for food is important for food security and livelihoods in many low-income areas, but is often overlooked by policymakers.

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Image: Arkansas Highways, I-530 mirage, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
31 July 2018

Researchers from the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute (of which the FCRN is part) have created a new tool - the “temperature of equivalence” - to map the impacts of varying degrees of climate change in different areas. They find that people living in low-income countries will, on average, experience heat extremes at 1.5°C of (global average) warming that people living high-income countries will not encounter until 3°C. This result is based on combining a map of predicted heat extremes with information on where people actually live within these areas. The paper also finds that, on average, people in high-income countries would experience the same increase in extreme rainfall after 1.0°C of warming that people in low-income countries would experience at 1.5°C of warming.

Image: Pxhere, Toucan bird nature, CC0 Public Domain
24 July 2018

Managing tropical forest conservation on the basis of maximising carbon storage might not protect the most biodiverse regions of forest, according to a recent paper. Using datasets from Brazil, the authors found that the correlation between biodiversity and levels of carbon stored in forests depended on whether and how the forest had been disturbed by human activity.

11 June 2018

TEEBAgriFood, part of the UN Environment initiative The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, has released a report on the environmental, health and social costs and benefits of the agriculture and food system. It finds that the food system does not keep everyone healthy or protect the environment. It calls for a reform in how we measure food system performance, because relying on yield per hectare and market prices neglects other costs such as food-borne disease and environmental degradation.

Image: vbranyik, Corn cornfield fall, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
11 June 2018

FCRN member Ben Phalan of the Universidade Federal da Bahia has written a paper discussing the strengths and limitations of the land sparing-sharing framework, which aims to allocate land use and production intensity so as to maximise the value of land for wildlife while still producing enough food for people. He notes that most studies show that wildlife would be favoured by producing food intensely on as little land as possible, and addresses some common criticisms of the model.

Image: Scott Bauer, Researchers examining wheat in a field, Free Stock Photos, Public domain
26 May 2018

In this IFSTAL blog post, Harley Pope of the University of Reading addresses some of the challenges of thinking about food systems that are too complex for any one person to understand fully.

Image: Julie, Apples, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
26 May 2018

FCRN member Elinor Hallström of the Research Institute of Sweden has authored a systematic review paper on how dietary quality scores are used in environmental sustainability assessment of food. The paper identifies two broad types of dietary quality scores and four different approaches to integrating nutritional and environmental assessments. It finds that both the type of dietary quality score and the way it is combined with environmental assessments can make a difference to which foods appear more sustainable.

21 May 2018

This book, edited by Anne Barnhill, Tyler Doggett, and Mark Budolfson, provides an overview of the philosophy of food ethics across a range of subject matter. Topics include genetically modified food, animal sentience, vegan and omnivorous diets, body image, global markets and activism.

Image: United Soybean Board, Soybean harvest, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
21 May 2018

The paper presents land use scenarios that provide enough food for 9 billion people, biodiversity protection and terrestrial carbon storage while staying inside the planetary boundaries for land and water use. The main features of these scenarios are improved agricultural productivity (through reducing the gap between current and maximum potential crop yields, and replacing some ruminant meat production with pork and poultry) and redistribution of agricultural production to areas with relatively high productivity and water supplies but low existing levels of biodiversity.

Image: European Space Agency, Central-eastern Brazil, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
15 May 2018

Better models are needed to assess and manage conflicting requirements for ecosystems services from land, a recent paper argues. These “uber integrated assessment models”, as the paper calls them, would help decision-makers to better understand the links between local and global land use policies.

10 April 2018

FCRN member Corné van Dooren defended his PhD thesis at VU University Amsterdam on 20 March 2018 on the topic of optimising both nutritional quality and environmental sustainability of diets.

Image: blickpixel, Board, Electronics, Computer, Pixabay, Creative Commons CC0
26 March 2018

Walmart has developed a machine learning tool to predict when fruit and vegetables will spoil and make supply chains less wasteful.

Image: Travis Isaacs, Orangutan, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
19 March 2018

This paper sets out principles of what the authors call “just conservation”, aiming to find a balance between the conservation of nature and social justice. The authors propose two principles to guide decision-making: the non-anthropocentric principle and the safeguard principle.

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