2019 report: Pathways to sustainable land-use and food systems

The Food, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Land-Use, and Energy (FABLE) Consortium
Resource type:
Reports and discussion papers

The Food, Agriculture, Biodiversity, LandUse, and Energy (FABLE) Consortium is a knowledge network of research teams from 18 countries that operates as part of the Food and Land-Use Coalition (FOLU). FOLU's core partners are from a variety of public and private sector organisations, including Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), EAT, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), SYSTEMIQ, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), The World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) and World Resources Institute (WRI).

This first report by the FABLE Consortium presents preliminary pathways towards sustainable land-use and food systems prepared by the 18 country teams from developed and developing countries. The report begins by exploring the challenges of unsustainable land-use and food systems and what it would take to organise to transform them. Then, the report dives into the why, how, and what next of actually mobilising to transform land-use and food systems. It explores all of the following in rich context:

The need for global pathways towards sustainable land-use and food systems

  • Today’s land-use and food systems are unsustainable in developed and developing countries alike
  • Solutions exist, but the transformation of land-use and food systems requires long-term strategies, as called for in the Paris Agreement
  • Countries need an integrated framework to understand and address challenges to their land-use and food systems
  • The FABLE Consortium has identified global midcentury targets for sustainable land-use and food systems
  • Long-term pathways are a method for problem solving for countries to understand how the targets can be achieved and to build consensus for strategies to achieve them

Why the FABLE network is needed

  • A global network of national knowledge institutions is needed to support countries in making their land-use and food systems sustainable
  • First, countries need to build domestic capacity to develop integrated pathways covering the three pillars
  • Second, national strategies must consider international markets for food and non-food commodities since these can have major implications for national land-use choices as well as the affordability of food and animal feed
  • Third, knowledge on the technologies and policies that can make food and land-use systems sustainable must be shared across countries

The FABLE approach

  • The FABLE Consortium supports country teams to develop rigorous, transparent pathways towards sustainable land-use and food systems
    • 1. Capacity development and sharing of best practice
    • 2. Development of mid-century national pathways
    • 3. Analysis of national policy options and support to national and international policy processes 
  • We have developed a new method for preparing national pathways that are consistent with global targets and ensure trade flows balance across countries

Key findings and policy implications

  • This is the first time that a broad group of country teams have collaborated to develop integrated national pathways towards sustainable land-use and food systems that are consistent with global objectives
  • Though preliminary and incomplete, our findings show that tremendous progress can be made towards the FABLE targets
  • The feasibility of rapid progress towards the FABLE objectives is driven largely by six factors: (1) large gains in agricultural productivity; (2) shifts in diets towards less meat consumption, with reductions in food overconsumption; (3) a slow-down in population growth; (4) reduced food loss; (5) stable per-capita demand for non-food products including bioenergy production; and (6) the resulting fall in demand for pasture and cropland at the global level
  • Our initial results show that it is possible to achieve sustainable land-use and food systems, but countries need to address all three pillars and adopt a long-term perspective
  • The results also demonstrate the critical impact of trade on both importing as well as exporting countries
  • Spatially-explicit analyses are needed to understand and manage competing uses of land
  • Countries will have an opportunity to promote integrated strategies for climate and land-use at the September 2019 Climate Summit convened by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

Next steps for the FABLE Consortium

  • The FABLE Consortium will pursue five steps to strengthen its work and support governments and other stakeholders in making food and land-use systems sustainable. 
    • 1. Build capacity in countries to improve national pathways using advanced, spatially-explicit data and models, including GLOBIOM, MAgPIE, or other tools
    • 2. Engage stakeholders at national and subnational levels around the design of long-term pathways and supporting policies towards sustainable land-use and food systems
    •  3. Support country teams in applying their models to test policies and improve their design by simulating the impact of policy options across the three pillars of sustainable land-use and food systems
    • 4. Improve the scope and methodology of the FABLE Scenathon
    • 5. As part of the Food and Land-Use Coalition, work with partners around the world to launch a Food and Land-Use Action Tracker that helps countries benchmark their policies against those pursued elsewhere and to learn from experiences in other countries

Toward the end of the report it unpacks what these pathways would look like in 18 countries. While the whole report offers theory of the FABLE approach to sustainable land-use and food systems, the country analyses offer a glimpse into the tangible action of their methods. From Ethiopia to Indonesia to Brazil, FABLE elaborates on the data as it pertains to specific countries. This report encompasses the need and the potential in sustainable land-use and food systems.  


You may also be interested in the 2020 report: 2020 FABLE Report and Country Chapters

This resource presents evidence or data but has not been peer reviewed