Food security and poverty are among the most pressing global policy challenges. Despite decades of rapid economic growth, in nearly all of Asia, areas of severe poverty remain. The picture is worse in the rest of the developing world. Research and education are vital to providing effective policy responses to this problem, but there has been a long-term decline of investment globally in research on food and related areas.
Food policy will determine how our societies manage security over natural resources, to ensure that we have sufficient food, water, energy, and other resources at an accessible cost and within tolerable levels of risk now and into the future.
The need for a stable food supply, at reasonable prices, has resulted in a much greater focus on ‘basic’ security needs in terms of the future adequacy of food and water. At the same time, the world is experiencing an energy transformation with the adoption of new technologies in unconventional fossil fuel production and renewables, and a shift of importance to Asia in terms of future energy demand.
The OECD, for example, projects that the global demand for water resources will grow by at least half by 2050 relative to 2000 levels, while global food demand is expected to double over the same period.
Yet climate change models project that there will be increased climate variability that will likely exacerbate food and water supply shocks. While domestic resource self-sufficiency is appealing, very few countries have the energy, minerals, land or water resources to provide for their own projected needs. The evidence suggests that support for multilateral institutions, investment mobility, research and development for basic research, effective resource management and international trade are key factors to manage resource security risks.
Managing resource risks in an insecure world will differ by country, the type and possible magnitude of the risks, and national, regional vulnerabilities. Nevertheless, the multi-dimensional nature of resource security demands that critically important natural capital stocks be conserved at a regional and global level and that special consideration be given to the particular vulnerabilities of poor countries while following market-based approaches to ensure adequate resource supplies.
Whatever the national approach adopted towards resource security, it is clear that promoting resource security is not a zero-sum game. All countries can benefit from a multilateral and a sustainable market framework that provides incentives for producers and delivers reliable supplies to consumers.
The Crawford School of Public Policy’s new Food Policy Institute will provide a coordinated, systematic, international and multi-disciplinary approach to research and education, to lead global thinking and policy responses to the big questions and challenges on the future of food security, water, energy and climate.
How can we ensure there is sufficient food for all? And why does climate change policy sometimes come into conflict with food policy? Professor Tom Kompas, Director of the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, sheds some light on those questions as he discusses the new Food Policy Institute.