2019 Jan 12

Rethinking Food Security and Sustainable Development

Dr Larry C.Y. Wong

Within the ambit of ‘economy and ecology’ (selected out of the six interdisciplinary areas for this Winter School) as well as ‘sustainable production and consumption’ (selected out of the four ‘virtual’ project groups for this Winter School) this paper/presentation examines some new dimensions, dynamics, realities and possible responses to the overarching concerns of food security and sustainable development, with an ASEAN and Myanmar slant (in order to provide participants in this Winter School a better understanding and perspective of the Myanmar situation, issues and challenges as well as opportunities and responses).

The purpose of the presentation is to provide an appreciation of the interrelatedness of the new dimensions and dynamics of food security and sustainable development, especially those stemming from the Food-Water-Energy Nexus, Green Growth and the increasing role of the private sector (especially within a Public-Private-Partnership framework) and subsequent potential responses (including what one could and should do as an individual).

The underlying theme of the presentation is that it is crucial to have public and policy dialogue (as well as self-reflection) so as to better understand and appreciate the new dimensions, dynamics and realities in food security and sustainable development that have become and will continue to be increasingly more complex, multiscale and interrelated or interdependent. This will invariably require trans-disciplinary, networked solutions that need to be re-calibrated and adjusted regularly in order to get the ‘basics’ and ‘balance’ right, at the regional, national, community and individual levels.

The new dimensions and dynamics considered here include food nutrition; changing diets and consumer preferences; regional integration/solutions (ASEAN, China’s ‘Belt & Road Initiative’), traceability and food safety (Safe food); demand/food waste management (Save food); role of private sector (Public-Private-Partnership); Food-Water-Energy nexus, Green growth; Climate change; International trade (trade in virtual water and land); Food-Feed-Fuel-Finance Conundrum; Changing role of rice (from rice to R.I.C.E – resilient, inclusive, competitive, and environmentally sensitive – system); and urban (vertical/factory) and peri-urban farming (Rubanization).
Subsequently, this presentation considers the potential impact and responses from the supply side (production) as well as the potential impact and responses from the demand side (consumption) perspective, within the framework of sustainable production and consumption, that is consistent with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 (at the national, provincial/state, community and household/individual levels). Finally, it distils out the key messages before the conclusion in the final section.

Suggested Readings:
1.    Wong, L.C.Y. and E.M.A. Wai. 2013. ‘Rapid Value Chain Assessment: Structure and Dynamics of the Rice Value Chain in Myanmar’, Background Paper No. 6, USAID-MSU-MDRI ‘A Strategic Agriculture Sector and Food Security Diagnostic for Myanmar’, March 2013'
2.    Raitzer, D., L. Wong, and J. Samson. 2015. Myanmar’s Agriculture Sector: Unlocking the Potential for Inclusive Growth. ADB Economics Working Paper Series No. 470 . Dec. 2015.
3.    Wong, Larry. 2012. Position Paper on Economic, Food and Water Security in the Asia and the Pacific: Towards Efficient and Sustainable Development within the Green Growth Paradigm (commissioned by UNESCAP) Dec 2012.
4.    World Development Report 2009 - Reshaping Economic Geography. The World Bank (only overview is attached. Full Report can be downloaded from World bank Group Website)
5.    World Development Report 2015 - Mind, Society, Behavior. The World Bank (only overview is attached. Full Report can be downloaded from World bank Group Website)
6.    Hezri, A.A. 2018. An Overview Study of Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Malaysia. The Department of Irrigation and Drainage; Kuala Lumpur.

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