The post-2015 agenda for sustainable development for the first time has agriculture play a significant role. Sustainable development can be traced to sustainable forest management in Europe in the 17th century and then later in concerns about environmental damage from human activities, seen in works like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), and in 1992, the UN Conference on Environment and Development resulted in the Earth Charter. Sustainable Development can be defined as “meeting human development goals while sustaining the ability of natural systems to continue to provide the natural resources and ecosystems services upon which the economy and society depend,” as well as leaving the earth in the same or better state as the previous generation. The three pillars of sustainable development are economic prosperity, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability, and a fourth has recently been added, which is good governance. We need Sustainable Development Goals because goals help to focus action; that is why in September 2015, the UN adopted 17 universal SDGs with 169 targets altogether that are adaptable to all countries.
Transformative changes are necessary across the whole global food system and that’s a fundamental reason for why agriculture has become central to sustainable development. SDG 2 is about ending hunger and has five concrete targets by 2030: end hunger and ensure access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food to all people; end all forms of malnutrition; double the productivity and income of small-scale food producers; ensure sustainable food production systems and implement more resilient agricultural practices; maintain genetic diversity of plants and animals. Some gaps in this goal include no specific target on diet quality, adult obesity, or rural development. This is difficult to implement because you have to interact with the environment and people.
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