Agroforestry Can Enhance Food Security While Meeting Other Sustainable Development Goals

Waldron, A. et al | Tropical Conservation Science | 2017 | Peer Reviewed | Perspective |


To achieve global food security, we need to approximately double food production over the coming decades. Conventional agriculture is the mainstream approach to achieving this target but has also caused extensive environmental and social harms. The consensus is that we now need an agriculture that can “multi-functionally” increase food production while simultaneously enhancing social and environmental goals, as committed to in the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Farming also needs to become more resilient to multiple insecurities including climate change, soil degradation, and market unpredictability, all of which reduce sustainability and are likely to exacerbate hunger. Here, we illustrate how agroforestry systems can increase yield while also advancing multiple SDGs, especially for the small developing-world agriculturalists central to the SDG framework. Agroforestry also increases resilience of crops and farm livelihoods, especially among the most vulnerable food producers. However, conventional yield-enhancement strategies have naturally dominated the debate on food production, hindering implementation of more multifunctional alternatives. Governments and institutions now have the opportunity to rebalance agricultural policy and investment toward such multigoal approaches. In doing so, they could achieve important improvements on multiple international commitments around the interlinked themes of food security, climate change, biodiversity conservation, and social well-being.