Event also announces the release of the groundbreaking report State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet

February 25, 2011 — The Worldwatch Institute today announces the opening of its first European office in Copenhagen, Denmark. The opening will be celebrated at a major event starting today at 14:00 in downtown Copenhagen. More than 120 guests, including prominent researchers, policy makers, business leaders and press, have registered for the event.

The opening coincides with the release of the 27th annual edition of Worldwatch’s flagship publication, State of the World. The event features a policy debate on Europe’s role in developing and establishing sustainable agriculture practices, with the goal of creating a healthier global food system.

Worldwatch Europe will represent the formal extension of the Institute’s research and project activities into the European policy sphere. Bo Normander, Director of Worldwatch Europe says: “By expanding our research base into Europe, we aim to deliver these types of insights and to inform more environmentally sustainable decision-making across the European Union.”

Photo opportunity

Tree huggers will welcome all guests at the launch event today. The event includes prominent speakers such as Elsebeth Krogh, Chairwoman of ActionAid Denmark; Hans Herren, President of the Millennium Institute; Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency; and Christopher Flavin, President of the Worldwatch Institute.

Release of State of the World 2011

This year’s State of the World 2011 report:Innovations that Nourish the Planet, 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.

“The progress showcased through this report will inform governments, policymakers, NGOs, and donors that seek to curb hunger and poverty, providing a clear roadmap for expanding or replicating these successes elsewhere,”says Worldwatch President Christopher Flavin.

Drawing from the world’s leading agricultural experts and from hundreds of innovations that are already working on the ground, State of the World 2011 outlines proven, environmentally sustainable prescriptions for decreasing malnutrition, improving yields, and increasing farmers’ incomes.

Worldwatch Senior Researcher and co-Project Director Danielle Nierenberg, who recently spent 15 months conducting on-the-ground research in over 25 countries across Africa, will also speak at the launch. She will present key findings from the report, including a roadmap for agricultural investment for top donor countries in successful projects that can prevent food waste, build resilience to climate change, and strengthen farming in cities.

Global food security initiatives

State of the World 2011comes 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.

Investment in agricultural development by governments, international lenders, and foundations has risen in recent years but is still nowhere near what is needed to help the 925 million people worldwide who remain undernourished. In 2008, $1.7 billion in official development assistance was provided to support agricultural projects in Africa, a miniscule amount given the vital return on investment. Under 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.

“The international community has been neglecting entire segments of the food system in its efforts to reduce hunger and poverty,”said Nierenberg, co-director of Worldwatch’s Nourishing the Planet project (www.NourishingthePlanet.org). “The solutions won’t necessarily come from producing more food, but from changing what children eat in schools, how foods are processed and marketed, and what sorts of food businesses we are investing in.”

Serving locally raised crops to school children, for example, has proven to be an effective hunger- and poverty-reducing strategy in many African nations, and has strong parallels to successful farm-to-cafeteria programs in the United States and Europe. Moreover, “roughly 40 percent of the food currently produced worldwide is wasted before it is consumed, creating large opportunities for farmers and households to save both money and resources by reducing this waste,” according to Brian Halweil, Nourishing the Planet co-director.

European tour

Beginning with a 16-country European tour, the project’s findings are being disseminated in over 20 languages to a wide range of agricultural stakeholders, including government ministries, agricultural policymakers, farmer and community networks, and the increasingly influential non-governmental environmental and development communities. The Copenhagen launch event kicked off both the European tour and Worldwatch’s official entry into the European sphere.