Foresight and Metrics to Accelerate Food, Land, and Water Systems Transformation - Proposal
Two generations ago, the challenge facing agriculture was daunting but clear: the world needed
to rapidly increase staple food production to meet rising demand. That challenge was largely met
but new ones arose, and today the challenges facing food, land and water systems are more
numerous and complex: over 700 million people still live in absolute poverty, millions more young
people seek jobs every year; nearly 2 billion people suffer from moderate or severe food
insecurity, while 4 in 10 adults globally are overweight or obese; gender gaps persist; natural
resources are under stress; and water resources are polluted and depleted (Messerly et al 2019;
Mahler et al 2021; FAO et al 2021; UNEP 2012; Our World in Data 2021).
Climate change compounds all these challenges, increases uncertainty, and means that we can no longer rely on historical experience to guide decision-making.
Addressing these interlinked challenges requires transformation of food, land, and water systems.
Transformation means moving from our current state to a fundamentally different state in the
future, but what is that desired future state, and what actions are needed to get there? Synergies
between impacts are possible, for example between poverty reduction, improved nutrition, and
increased equity. But trade-offs between policies and investments to achieve these impacts are
often unavoidable, given limited resources and disparate decision-making domains, and the
choices facing national governments and their development partners have become increasingly
complicated (Hasegawa et al 2018; Balié 2020). What is the appropriate balance between selfreliance and global integration, for example, or between immediate welfare gains and long-term
sustainability? Decision-makers at global and national levels have expressed their need for better
evidence on the questions and challenges they face, which courses of action should be
undertaken, and which policies and investments might minimize trade-offs and achieve collective
goals (see country stakeholder consultations and regional stakeholder consultations).
Wiebe, K. and Gotor, E.