Home > Uncategorized > The ‘State of the World 2011’ report of the World Watch Institute: innovations that nourish the planet

The ‘State of the World 2011’ report of the World Watch Institute: innovations that nourish the planet

from Merijn Knibbe

Two weeks ago the World Watch Institute published its ‘State of the World’ report (links can be found here). It’s about agriculture and food on a planet which sees its number of human inhabitants increase. A very important figure is 1.1 in: (click here, p. 6): bucking a 140 year old long run trend, food prices are moving upwards, since 2000.

An excerpt (emphasis added):

New York, 12 January 2011—Worldwatch Institute today released its report State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, which spotlights successful agricultural innovations and unearths major successes in preventing food waste, building resilience to climate change, and strengthening farming in cities. The report provides a roadmap for increased agricultural investment and more-efficient ways to alleviate global hunger and poverty. Drawing from the world’s leading agricultural experts and from hundreds of innovations that are already working on the ground, the report outlines 15 proven, environmentally sustainable prescriptions …

State of the World 2011 comes at a time when many global hunger and food security initiatives—such as the Obama administration’s Feed the Future program, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)—can benefit from new insight into environmentally sustainable projects that are already working to alleviate hunger and poverty.

Nearly a half-century after the Green Revolution, a large share of the human family is still chronically hungry. While investment in agricultural development by governments, international lenders, and foundations has escalated in recent years, it is still nowhere near what is needed to help the 925 million people who are undernourished. Since the mid-1980s when agricultural funding was at its height, agriculture’s share of global development aid has fallen from over 16 percent to just 4 percent today.

In 2008, $1.7 billion dollars in official development assistance was provided to support agricultural projects in Africa, based on statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)—a miniscule amount considering the vital return on investment. Given the current global economic conditions, investments are not likely to increase in the coming year. Much of the more recently pledged funding has yet to be raised, and existing funding is not being targeted efficiently to reach the poor farmers of Africa.

  1. Bruce E. Woych
    January 27, 2012 at 1:10 pm


    International Society for Ecological Economics (Call for Papers/conference May 29 – June 1)
    Nourishing the Planet 2012:
    “President-elect of the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE) Dr. Bina Agarwal has issued a call for papers to be presented at the12th Biennial Conference of ISEE.”

  2. Bruce E. Woych
    January 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    “Land Grabs” in Agriculture: Fairer Deals Needed to Ensure Opportunity for Locals

    The trend of international land grabbing-when governments and private firms invest in or purchase large tracts of land in other countries for the purpose of agricultural production and export-can have serious environmental and social consequences.


    “The trend of international land grabbing—when governments and private firms invest in or purchase large tracts of land in other countries for the purpose of agricultural production and export—can have serious environmental and social consequences, according to researchers at the Worldwatch Institute. Deals that focus solely on financial profit can leave rural populations more vulnerable and without land, employment opportunities, or food security.”

    • January 27, 2012 at 6:33 pm

      Economists should be advising the govts of these countries to rent their ‘spare’ land on an annual basis. They could achieve a secure and increasing revenue source from which to develop the rest of their economies. When they want the land back they just raise the rent to a level where the renters withdraw. Resource-rich land should never ever be sold in perpetuity.

  3. Bruce E. Woych
    January 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Commission Aims to Produce Clear Course of Action on Sustainable Food System
    By Matt Styslinger

    “The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)—a consortium of international research centers focused on sustainable agricultural development—has launched a new initiative focused on agriculture’s contribution to food security in the context of climate change: the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change. “The food system is really not sustainable,” says Professor Sir John Beddington, U.K. Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Chair of the Commission. “What is happening is it’s getting big subsidies of fossil fuels, it is over-exploiting water, [and] it is using land in unacceptable ways.”

  4. Bruce E. Woych
    January 27, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    By Matt Styslinger

    According to Dr. Vandana Shiva—founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE) and Navdanya—the Indian government is taking land from farmers and giving it to private speculators, real estate corporations, mining companies, and recreational industries. In an online editorial published on Al Jazeera, The great land grab: India’s war on farmers, Shiva says that the land grabs are made possible by the combination of the colonial Land Acquisition Act of 1894, the 1991 World Bank structural adjustment program in India, and deregulation under Indian neo-liberal economic policies. “The largest democracy of the world is destroying its democratic fabric through its land wars,” says Shiva. “The land wars must stop if India is to survive ecologically and democratically.”

  5. Bruce E. Woych
    January 27, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Bio-fuels, Speculation, Land Grabs = Food Crisis
    New report calls for sweeping agricultural reform….


  6. Bruce E. Woych
    January 27, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    “Commodity prices doubled in ’08, the estimated number of hungry people topped one billion and food riots spread through the developing world. A second price spike in 2010-2011, which is expected to drive the global food import bill for 2011 to an astonishing $1.3 trillion, only deepened the sense that the policies and principles guiding agricultural development and food security were deeply flawed…”


    a “… report titled Resolving the Food Crisis: Assessing Global Policy Reform Since 2007 from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and Tufts University Global Development and Environment Institute offers some answers to these questions.”
    (17 minutes:22sec Real News Network review) critical & essential overview)

  7. Bruce E. Woych
    January 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm


    How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis
    …..Wall Street’s at fault for the spiraling cost of food.


  8. Bruce E. Woych
    January 27, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Africa, agrofuels, land grabs, and murders
    Posted on 2011 December 3

  9. January 27, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    “… existing funding is not being targeted efficiently to reach the poor farmers of Africa.”

    Why the surprise? What universities and governments profiting from illicit funds flowing from land grabbers would implement policies contrary to the wishes of their funders?

    And Bruce, don’t forget the current US administration support for overthrow of the democratically elected government of Honduras. Ongoing land grabs there include murders of teachers branded as thugs undermining stability.

    • Bruce E. Woych
      January 27, 2012 at 2:37 pm

      @Garrett: Thanks to You.
      The wider context is a kettle of worms. A recent post here (Real-World Economic Review):
      Michael Hudson on the making of the crisis
      January 13, 2012 ; ….from Merijn Knibbe
      Opens the larger quest for an overall justice to be critically discussed among concerned citizens of the “University without Borders” (if you will…). I think that research links posted by academia and intellectual discussion is the beginning of the answer. In this regard, making use of a location as this to post not only relevant material but to become a concentrated depository of reference materials for others to jump ahead seems like a very significant way to augment the author’s contribution.
      I seriously encourage a new dialogue based upon evidence based opinion and backed up with reference links and sources. Let’s do this together…Let’s connect and create a synergistic system that has impact. Join IN !

  10. Podargus
    January 27, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    You can shuffle the cards whichever way you want but,when the deal is done,there are just not enough to go around all the players at the table.
    More emphasis on reducing the number of players is needed.The pack(Earth) is finite.

    Population increase must be stopped and then reversed.Otherwise there will be a Malthusian solution in spite of the technocopians,the Panglossians and the Pollyannas.

    Strange species,Homo Saps,I wonder if they’ll be missed?

    • Alice
      January 28, 2012 at 10:33 am

      Of course humans wont be missed…the earth will recover and we will just contribute our memories to another layer of bedrock as other species have done before us. If we cant save ourselves from our own problems with our relationship with nature and our use of resources, the problem will be solved by nature for nature.

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