Reconciling food security and bioenergy: Priorities for action

Keith L. Kline*, Siwa Msangi, Virginia H. Dale, Jeremy Woods, Glaucia m. Souza, Patricia Osseweijer, Joy S. Clancy, Jorge A. Hilbert, Francis X. Johnson, Patrick C. Mcdonnell, Harriet K. Mugera

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)
50 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Understanding the complex interactions among food security, bioenergy sustainability, and resource management requires a focus on specific contextual problems and opportunities. The United Nations' 2030 Sustainable Development Goals place a high priority on food and energy security; bioenergy plays an important role in achieving both goals. Effective food security programs begin by clearly defining the problem and asking, 'What can be done to assist people at high risk?' Simplistic global analyses, headlines, and cartoons that blame biofuels for food insecurity may reflect good intentions but mislead the public and policymakers because they obscure the main drivers of local food insecurity and ignore opportunities for bioenergy to contribute to solutions. Applying sustainability guidelines to bioenergy will help achieve near- and long-term goals to eradicate hunger. Priorities for achieving successful synergies between bioenergy and food security include the following: (1) clarifying communications with clear and consistent terms, (2) recognizing that food and bioenergy need not compete for land and, instead, should be integrated to improve resource management, (3) investing in technology, rural extension, and innovations to build capacity and infrastructure, (4) promoting stable prices that incentivize local production, (5) adopting flex crops that can provide food along with other products and services to society, and (6) engaging stakeholders to identify and assess specific opportunities for biofuels to improve food security. Systematic monitoring and analysis to support adaptive management and continual improvement are essential elements to build synergies and help society equitably meet growing demands for both food and energy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-576
Number of pages20
JournalGCB Bioenergy
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

Keywords

  • Bioenergy
  • Biofuels
  • Energy
  • Flex crops
  • Food insecurity
  • Food security and nutrition
  • Natural resource management
  • Poverty reduction
  • Sustainable development goals

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