Book shelf collage

Along with the flood of books dealing with food and climate change issues, a wealth of free substantive reports, available as PDF downloads, also beckon for readers’ attention and action. Part Two of bibliophile Michael Svoboda’s “Climate changing the menu” selections offers links to a trove of recent authoritative reports . . . enough to make any foodie late for their next meal. The descriptions of the studies below are drawn from copy provided by the publishers.

Collage A

Shifting Diets for a Sustainable Food Future, by Janet Ranganathan, Daniel Vennard, Richard Waite, Brian Lipinski, and Tim Searchinger (World Resources Institute, 2016, 90 pages, free download)

New research from World Resources Institute finds the average American could cut their diet-related environmental impacts nearly in half just by eating less meat and dairy. Shifting Diets for a Sustainable Food Future presents solutions to the challenge of feeding a growing population by reducing animal protein consumption, especially beef, and helping shift billions of people to more sustainable diets. The paper is the 11th installment of the World Resources Report: Creating a Sustainable Food Future, which is exploring ways to close a 70 percent gap between food available today and expected demand in 2050. WRI finds shifting to diets with a greater share of plant-based foods can help close the food gap by 30 percent.

2016 Global Food Policy Report, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI 2016, 154 pages, free download)

The Global Food Policy Report is IFPRI’s flagship publication. This year’s annual report examines major food policy issues, global and regional developments, and commitments made in 2015, and presents data on key food policy indicators. The report also proposes key policy options for 2016 and beyond to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2015, the global community made major commitments on sustainable development and climate change. The global food system lies at the heart of these commitments – and we will only be able to meet the new goals if we work to transform our food system to be more inclusive, climate-smart, sustainable, efficient, nutrition- and health-driven, and business-friendly.

Save and Grow in Practice – Maize, Rice, Wheat: A Guide to Sustainable Cereal Production, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (UN FAO 2016, 124 pages, free download)

This guide describes the practical application of FAO’s “Save and Grow” model of sustainable crop production intensification to the world’s key food security crops: maize, rice and wheat. With examples from Africa, Asia and Latin America, it shows how ecosystem-based farming systems are helping smallholder farmers to boost cereal yields, strengthen their livelihoods, reduce pressure on the environment, and build resilience to climate change. The guide will be a valuable reference for policymakers and development practitioners during the global transition to sustainable food and agriculture.

Collage B

A Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste by 20 Percent, ReFED | ReFED 2016, 96 pages, free download)

The economic analysis and research [presented in A Roadmap to Reduce Food Waste by 20 Percent] revealed exciting news: Food waste is a solvable problem. But four priority actions are needed to reach significant reductions. First, we must galvanize hundreds of millions of dollars of new catalytic funding. Second, policymakers must make pragmatic changes to tax incentives, safety regulations, and permitting procedures to support healthy market solutions. Third, America must unleash its spirit of innovation to develop new technology and business-model innovations. Finally, a sweeping education and awareness campaign is needed to change behavior both among consumers and employees of food businesses. This Roadmap report is a guide and a call to action for us to work together to solve this problem. Businesses can save money for themselves and their customers. Policymakers can unleash a new wave of local job creation. Foundations can take a major step in addressing environmental issues and hunger. And innovators across all sectors can launch new products, services, and business models. There will be no losers, only winners, as food finds its way to its highest and best use.

Climate Change, Global Food Security, and the U.S. Food System, U.S. Global Change Research Program (USDA 2015, 156 pages, free download)

Climate change is likely to diminish continued progress on global food security through production disruptions that lead to local availability limitations and price increases, interrupted transport conduits, and diminished food safety, among other causes. Climate change can affect food availability, access, utilization, and the stability of each of these over time. Constrictions at any point can lead to food insecurity through the activities of the food system, including food production, transportation, and storage. Climate Change, Global Food Security, and the U.S. Food System is a peer-reviewed scientific assessment that identifies climate change effects on global food security. The assessment is a contribution to the U.S. National Climate Assessment, is called for under the President’s Climate Action Plan, and was led by USDA.

Changing Climate, Changing Diets: Pathways to Lower Meat Consumption, by L. Wellesley, C. Happer, and A. Froggatt (Chatham House 2015, 80 pages, free download)

Human consumption of meat and dairy products is a major driver of climate change but has been largely overlooked in national and international climate change policy. Using data obtained from a twelve-country survey and from focus groups and stakeholder meetings in Brazil, China, the United States, and the United Kingdom, this report explores public understanding and awareness of the links between meat and dairy consumption and climate change. It makes recommendations as to how state and non-state actors can develop policies that support sustainable diets at the national and international level. The report will help to inform discussion around demand-side measures to reduce the climate impact of the livestock sector, measures that are essential to meet international climate targets and realize important health, environmental and societal benefits.

Collage C

Climate Change and Food Security: Risks and Responses, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (UN FAO 2015, 110 pages, free download)

This report . . . provides an overview of the cascading impacts of climate change on food security and nutrition, from physical impacts on agro-ecosystems to livelihoods and food security. It shows how the cascade of impacts acts on a series of vulnerabilities. It presents ways to adapt and build resilience to climate change to ensure food security and nutrition. It shows the importance to act now on climate change – to eliminate hunger, to enable the agriculture sectors to adapt to climate change, and to mitigate climate change in order to keep it at levels where it is still possible to ensure and safeguard everyone’s food security and nutrition. [Focused on] ways to reduce negative impacts through adaptation and resilience, [this report] does not cover greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the agriculture sectors nor means to reduce them.

TEEB for Agriculture and Food: Interim Report, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (UNEP-TEEB 2015, 124 pages, free download)

The Interim Report introduces the key questions, issues and arguments to be addressed by TEEB AgriFood. Interim results are presented from five exploratory sector studies (on livestock, rice, agroforestry, inland fisheries and palm oil), while the development of a “valuation framework” provides a common lens for ensuring that the full range of impacts and dependencies can be examined under different applications (i.e. by sector, system or practice). Finally, the Report examines the way forward for this study by identifying economic and policy drivers and incentives that influence land-use decisions and management techniques within production systems around the world.

Climate Change and Food Systems: Global Assessments and Implications for Food Security and Trade, Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO 2015, 356 pages, free download)

This book collects the findings of a group of scientists and economists who have taken stock of climate change impacts on food and agriculture at global and regional levels over the past two decades. The evidence presented describes how global warming will impact where and how food is produced and discusses the significant consequences for food security, health and nutrition, water scarcity and climate adaptation. The book also highlights the implications for global food trade. The evidence presented in the book is presented in a way that is widely accessible to policy decision makers and practitioners and makes a distinct contribution towards a greater science-policy interchange. Put together, the different analyses in the book paint a comprehensive perspective linking climate change to food, nutrition, water, and trade along with suggested policy responses.

Also see: Climate Changing the Menu (Pt. 1) (posted June 2, 2016)

Michael Svoboda, Ph.D., is the Yale Climate Connections books editor. He is a professor in the University Writing Program at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he has taught since...