Georgina Smith/CIAT

Boosting synergies and managing trade-offs in food systems

Research to resilience: Climate-smart solutions to enhance ecosystem health and strengthen food, nutrition and water security for all

Our climate, biodiversity and food systems are inextricably linked – and not always for the best. Food systems cause huge biodiversity losses, account for about one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, and leave two billion people with unhealthy diets, even as 40% of all food produced goes uneaten. The ways we feed ourselves – through just a few crops and animals – are unsustainable for people and planet.

‘Boosting synergies and managing trade-offs in food systems,’ the sixth webinar in WLE’s ‘Research to resilience’ series, asked how synergies and trade-offs between the social, economic and environmental outcomes in food and agricultural systems can be more sustainably and productively managed.

The hour-long session invited experts to share insights, actions and lessons learned from around the world. Key findings included:

  • The importance of agroecological diversity, and the need to move away from single-use monocultured landscapes towards multifunctional ones, in order to support both biodiversity and healthy diets
  • The vital – but largely unrecognized – social, environmental and economic benefits that commons provide for India’s rural population
  • The need for flexibility and an understanding of local contexts when managing synergies and trade-offs in food and agricultural systems
  • The need for greater recognition and appreciation across society of the role farmers must play in conserving biodiversity and supporting healthy diets.

Speakers and Panelists

Opening remarks

Dr Roseline Remans, Lead of Enhancing Sustainability across Agricultural Systems research theme, WLE (Alliance of Bioversity international and CIAT)

  • Dr Fabrice DeClerck, Science Director, EAT Forum & Senior Scientist, Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT
  • Dr Wei Zhang, Senior Research Fellow, Environment and Production Technology Division, IFPRI
  • Dr Pablo Tittonell, Principal Investigator, CONICET-INTA & WWF Chair, Resilient Landscapes for Nature and People, Groningen University, The Netherlands
  • Dr Alejandra Martinez-Salinas, Research Associate, Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE)
  • Ms Emeline Fellus, Director, Food Reform for Sustainability and Health (FReSH), World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)
  • Mr Webster Isheanopa Makombe, Youth Leader, Act4FoodAct4Change


Biodiversity in agriculture for people and planet (Dr Fabrice DeClerck, EAT Forum & One CGIAR)

Sustainable management of commons to boost synergies: A case study on India (Dr Wei Zhang, IFPRI)



View the full 'From Research to Resilience' webinar series