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Producing more with less: The Danish agriculture and food cluster’s recipe for accelerating progress on the UN SDGs

By State of Green, July 18, 2018

Countries across the globe are currently gathering at the UN’s headquarters in New York to discuss how to accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During the week, the Danish agriculture and food cluster is presenting concrete examples of proven solutions that can make a tangible contribution to achieving the SDGs.

Today the white paper Producing More With Less was launched at a side event to the United Nations High Level Political Forum 2018 (UN HLPF 2018). The annual event gathers countries from across the globe to evaluate progress on selected SDGs and discuss new ways to spur progress.

The challenge of providing nourishment for a world that soon will number nine billion in a sustainable way
One of the goals being evaluated at this year’s HLP is Goal 12 Responsible Consumption and Production, which aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. The global population is projected to hit nine billion by 2030. That is over one billion more than we currently house today, all of whom at a minimum will need to be fed, sheltered and clothed. While agriculture sustains life, it is also resource intensive, accounting for 70% of global water withdrawals and 30% of global energy consumption.

Therefore, concrete solutions that can produce an ample amount to sustain a growing world without compromising scarce resources or adding to global warming are needed.

-Related news: The Danish government invests EUR 60 million in the Global Environment Facility 

Producing More With Less
Developed in collaboration between State of Green, the Danish Ministry for the Environment and Food, the Danish Agricultural Council and Agro Business Park/The Danish Innovation Network for Biomass, the white paper Producing More With Less presents concrete examples from Denmark via the use of case studies that detail how an environmentally and economically sustainable agriculture and food sector can be achieved.

In launching the white paper during the UN HLPF, the aim is to share solutions and experiences from Danish agriculture and food cluster on how to decouple increases in agricultural production with resource consumption. While global aggregate agricultural production is stagnating and consumption of natural resources is rising, over the last twenty-five years, agricultural production in Denmark has increased by 30%. At the same time, greenhouse gas emissions in the sector have fallen by 20% and similar figures exists across a range of parameters, such as water consumption, phosphorous use etc. Therefore, the sector is eager to share some of the solutions it has to realising progress on the SDGs.

-Related news: New Dkk 4bn Fund contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goals in developing countries

The circular bioeconomy: An agenda for innovation, sustainability and growth
The white paper discusses the concept of the circular bioeconomy, which is a new economic paradigm that focusses on using, reusing and upcycling renewable biological resources from the soil, the sea and residual and by-products to create high-value products such as foodstuffs, animal feed, medicines, fertilizers and much more. The emphasis is on eliminating unnecessary resource use and waste.

Companies, farmers, scientists and government authorities have already embarked on the journey to a circular bioeconomy in Denmark.  As a small island nation with modest natural resources, the agriculture and food cluster has been compelled to do more with less and economise on resources. It has adopted a holistic approach that assesses the entire value chain to create solutions that address multiple needs and reuse side streams from production to create new, high value products.

Inside the white paper you will find examples of how the sector is pioneering the use of biomass in the form of straw, wood, algae and household waste to create bioenergy that meets the need for energy in an affordable, sustainable and reliable way. Understand how bioprotection can help reduce the trillion-dollar food loss and waste problem. Exploring the use of alternative proteins, Danish companies are looking at ways to meet the growing demand for protein without adding to the strains on arable land and scarce resources. This includes developing locally produced green proteins for animal feed, thus ending the dependency on imports and using insects to create protein for both human and animal consumption. By utilising local biological resources, energy is provided for a refugee camp in Kenya and a side product emerges that has the potential to transform the arid area around the camp into land that is suitable for farming.

Examples such as these have positive, far-reaching impacts. The combination of biotechnologies, sustainable agricultural production and exploitation of residual and by-products not only address SDG goals such as ending hunger, achieving food security and sustainable agriculture, but also goals such as sustainably managing water, supplying clean and affordable energy, securing responsible production and consumption, maintaining biodiversity, taking climate action and conserving the ocean’s resources.

Providing answers to the challenges of meeting the SDGs in New York
The white paper was launched during a side event to the HLPF at the Danish Permanent Mission to the UN’s office in New York, where Daniel Crespo Calleja, Director-General for Environment, European Commission, Andrew Steer, CEO and President of the World Resoures Insitute, Adam Monroe, President of the Americas and VP for Public Affairs and Sustainability, Novozymes, Karen Hækkerup, CEO of the Danish Agriculture and Food Council and Finn Mortensen, Executive Director of the Danish public-private partnership, State of Green, discussed the role of the agricultural sector in realising the SDGs.

At the launch in New York, Karen Hækkerup, CEO of the Danish Agricultural and Food Council stated:

“While world leaders are evaluating progress on selected Sustainable Development Goals, we are presenting solutions from the Danish agriculture and food cluster that can effect real change.

Each year, we add an additional 83 million people to the globe. Therefore, we need partnerships to meet a growing world’s demand for safe and sustainable food production.

Innovative Danish farmers and food companies are already working to produce in a sustainable manner every day. While agricultural and food production has increased in Denmark, energy and water consumption has decreased. But we need to get even better. By optimizing resource use and utilizing residuals and by-products from agriculture and food production, we can make substantial progress in the path to a more sustainable world,” Ms. Hækkerup stressed.

Finn Mortensen, Executive Director of State of Green commented:
“The UN Sustainable Development Goals are an attempt to reorient the world in a more sustainable development and Denmark is eager to take an active role in this transition. We seek to highlight the potential that lies in the agriculture and food sector to sustainably meet the need for food, energy and water in a world that soon will number nine billion. By doing so, we believe that we all stand to gain”.

Lars Visbech Sørensen, Chief Executive Director of Agro Business Park and Vice Chairman of the Danish Innovation Network for Biomass adds:

“The achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goals highly depends on global cooperation between public and private stakeholders. With this publication, we do not only seek to introduce off the shelf solutions that can play a part in feeding the world in a sustainable way, we also encourage the development of R&D and commercial partnerships between Danish and foreign stakeholders”.

Adam Monroe, President of the Americas and VP for Public Affairs and Sustainability, Novozymes, said:

“Novozymes was among the very first companies in the world to embrace and align with the SDGs in terms of purpose, strategy, and long-term targets. Sustainability has always been part of our DNA – with biological solutions providing answers to numerous sustainable development challenges, not least in agriculture, food, energy, and water. Doing good for the world makes for sound business of Novozymes – with the bioeconomy playing a key role in achieving low-carbon solutions, circular economy, sustainable agriculture – as well as the Global Goals at large”.

You can download the white paper, Producing More With Less here.

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