Assessing the land resource–food price nexus of the Sustainable Development Goals

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Science Advances  16 Sep 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 9, e1501499
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501499

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The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for a comprehensive new approach to development rooted in planetary boundaries, equity, and inclusivity. The wide scope of the SDGs will necessitate unprecedented integration of siloed policy portfolios to work at international, regional, and national levels toward multiple goals and mitigate the conflicts that arise from competing resource demands. In this analysis, we adopt a comprehensive modeling approach to understand how coherent policy combinations can manage trade-offs among environmental conservation initiatives and food prices. Our scenario results indicate that SDG strategies constructed around Sustainable Consumption and Production policies can minimize problem-shifting, which has long placed global development and conservation agendas at odds. We conclude that Sustainable Consumption and Production policies (goal 12) are most effective at minimizing trade-offs and argue for their centrality to the formulation of coherent SDG strategies. We also find that alternative socioeconomic futures—mainly, population and economic growth pathways—generate smaller impacts on the eventual achievement of land resource–related SDGs than do resource-use and management policies. We expect that this and future systems analyses will allow policy-makers to negotiate trade-offs and exploit synergies as they assemble sustainable development strategies equal in scope to the ambition of the SDGs.

  • Sustainable development
  • integrated assessment modeling
  • food security
  • resource management
  • sustainable development goals
  • planetary boundaries

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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