Agri-Food systems are at the heart of at least 12 of the 17 United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The wide scope of the SDGs call for holistic approaches that integrate previously “siloed” food sustainability assessments. It recognizes that these systems cut across ethical, social, economic, political, environmental, and ecological issues that cannot be addressed independently.
Food systems have evolved into highly complex supply chains, where changes due to new policies, products, or technologies can have diverse and unanticipated repercussions. To be effective, learners will understand the need of a country-level collaboration among different ministries—finance, commerce, agriculture, health, environment, etcetera—and across countries affected by common problems. Learners will consider in an agri-food systems analysis the current or future sustainability status, detecting trade-offs across different economic, environmental, and social elements, and considering serious realities while offering a tractable way forward for policy and decision makers.
Learners will recognize the food system as a supply chain that is managed by diverse actors with competing interests and goals. Along the way, the management of the food system is shaped by changes in natural resources, markets, policies, technologies, organizations, and information.
Learners will investigate the ecosystem and biodiversity impacts of food systems that include other drivers that come from outside the food system, such as lifestyle changes, health care policies, energy policies, cross-border atmospheric deposition of nitrogen, or nonfood employment opportunities. Learners explore economically invisible impacts, together with their impacts on human health, global climate change, and community livelihoods to provide economic and social importance so that policymakers and business leaders recognize and respond appropriately. The global society is accustomed to managing what gets analyzed, measured, and valued. Analysis and valuation is a must, because without it, human responses are either muted or missing, be they policy responses, business responses, or citizens responses.