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FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

Research series analyzes the main rural, agricultural, food and environmental challenges of Latin America and the Caribbean

FAO and the Institute of Peruvian Studies invited more than 90 experts to develop 33 documents that address the major issues affecting the region.

September 10, 2019, Santiago de Chile - What will Latin America and the Caribbean be like with two more degrees of warming. What are the new food consumption patterns in the region? What is the current situation of women and indigenous peoples? What are the trends of migration, natural resources and territorial development? How should agriculture change to meet the global demand for food?

These questions –and many more– are answered by the authors of the 2030 Series, Food, agriculture and rural development in Latin America and the Caribbean, presented today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Institute of the Institute of Peruvian Studies (IEP).

It is a collection of 33 documents in which more than 90 experts participated, who thoroughly analyzed the main challenges facing the region and proposed innovative ways to address them.

“For the first time in history, the bulk of the innovations that are affecting the rural world are being made by actors who are not in the rural world and who do not have a direct relationship with it. We are in a completely new scenario of radical technological transformations,” explained Julio Berdegué, FAO’s Regional Representative, during the presentation of the 2030 Series.

According to Berdegué, one of the documents in the series highlights that 4,000 startups related to the agricultural sector are created in China every day: “What will the agricultural future be like in a world of that nature? It is time to rethink all the questions related to the rural world and to food”, he said.

 

The series includes seven documents in English, including a summary of the whole series:

Rural development is key to the future of the entire region

One of the key aspects highlighted by multiple authors, is the enormous wealth of the region’s rural areas: according to the document State and perspectives of natural resources and ecosystems, the region has a natural capital (land, forests) and non-renewable resources (oil, gas and minerals) that contribute 17% to the growth of its wealth. It is the second global region with the greatest contribution of natural capital to its wealth.

90% of the territory of Latin America and the Caribbean can be considered rural, explains the document Rural and sustainable development, a bold fact that immediately highlights its importance. “The agricultural sector is the main export sector of goods in the region,” explained Martín Piñeiro, director of the Committee on Agricultural Affairs of the Argentine Council of International Relations, in the presentation.

Working with these territories is fundamental because, “of the 169 targets set down by the Sustainable Development Goals, 78% have the rural world as a scenario at least partially, and 1 in 5 goals are exclusively or fundamentally rural”, as explained in the summary document of the series, Rural transformation: thinking the future of Latin America and the Caribbean.

“The rural in Latin America and the Caribbean is of planetary importance. We feed an important part of the planet. But the rural world is not only agriculture, mining and forests, it is essential to face climate change and biodiversity conservation,” explained Carolina Trivelli, principal investigator of the IEP.

Natural resources and climate change

The region has the largest reserve of arable soils in the world (576 million hectares, equivalent to 30% of the world’s total); 30% of the planet's renewable water reserves; 25% of forests; 46% of tropical forests; and 30% of the world's biodiversity, explains the work Innovation, aggregation of value and differentiation, which analyzes strategies for the agri-food sector.

But all these resources must be used and cared for in the light of climate change: According to the paper Rural situation in Latin America and the Caribbean with 2 degrees of warming, the entire region is projected to exceed two degrees Celsius of average temperature increase around 2050.

Changes in food systems and social challenges

The document that analyzes the new food consumption patterns highlights that the greater quantity and variety of food in the region has allowed countries to reduce the number of undernourished population from 62.6 million to 39.3 million between 2000 and 2017. “It is of a decline that exceeds almost four times the world average,” according to the authors.

The flipside of this change has been the trend in obesity: “The rate of overweight in adults increased by more than 20 percentage points, from 33.3 to 57.7%, between 1975 and 2015. In the same period, the rate of obesity in adults tripled, going from 7.8 to 23.6%,” the authors warned.

The increase in poverty –which has grown after 20 years of sustained reduction, by 2 percentage points, from 46.7 to 48.6%, according to paper The 2030 Agenda and the transformation of rural territories: a challenge for Latin American institutions– coupled with climate change and insecurity and violence, is driving migration.

“The migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean are estimated at 28.5 million people, representing 4.8% of the region’s total population. Since 1970, the weight of intra-regional immigrants has increased from 24% to 63% of the total migrants in the region in 2010” explained Fernando Soto-Baquero in the document Migration and rural development.

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