Trade-offs between environment and livelihoods: Bridging the global land use and food security discussions
This article in the journal Global Food Security connects the discussion on the trade-offs between agricultural production and environmental concerns, including the asserted need for global land use expansion, and the issues of rural livelihoods and food security. Result show that there is a severe research gap about how concrete interventions can reduce the need for agricultural expansion through changing consumption. Additionally, the study finds that increasing global food production can hardly be achieved without environmental trade-offs. Interventions are required to strategically direct agricultural expansion on land that present the most desirable social and environmental trade-offs. Interventions also need to promote sustainable forms of intensification, taking into account the complex linkages between intensification and expansion pathways. Another key insight is that the food security/environment trade-offs can be mitigated by recognizing that some types of commodities and supply chains benefit little to food security, while entailing high environmental impacts such as deforestation. It is thus important to identify these commodities and supply chains. Moreover, global food production is linked to food security of the – mainly urban – low income, net food buyers through food prices. The authors conclude with two lessons: 1) Developing commercial farming, including medium-scale farms providing high labor productivity employment, can contribute to food security through rural wages. 2) Developing such value chains based on commodities with high income- and price-elasticity of demand requires interventions to avoid deforestation through a rebound-effect.