There’s been a lot of news recently, right across the world, which for us has brought into sharp focus the continuing relevance and importance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (#SDGs) – sometimes known as the Global Goals. Here at the Global Academy we have almost 650 researchers, representing every continent, whose work contributes directly to the achievement of one, or more, of the SDGs by 2030.

A great example of this recent news in the UK, and Europe more widely, has been extremes of weather affecting normal food supply chains as crops fail in parts of Southern Europe. The regular supplies of fruit and vegetable to the supermarkets of Northern Europe and beyond have been impacted. There’s talk in Spain of wholesale changes to the type of produce that may have to be grown in future given increasing likelihood of drought, extreme heat and even wildfires.  Similar stories are being told in North America where the long-term viability of, for example, some well known Californian vineyards is being called into question.

In other parts of the Northern Hemisphere (e.g. China, India) the extreme heat has been combined with torrential rainfall and flooding, again putting important crops under threat.  In Australia, and presumably elsewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, they are planning for another extreme summer as El Niño takes a grip in the Pacific.

So what does all this mean and why are we talking about it?

All this news is highly relevant to our work, and that of our researchers, at the Global Academy.  One of the Global Goals most directly relevant to all this is Goal 2: No Hunger.  There are 79 Global Academy researchers whose work is contributing directly to the world achieving that Goal by 2030.

However, the really important thing is that the #SDGs are broken down into much more specific Targets. These are where the value of the work being undertaken by Global Academy researchers can be really appreciated.  Goal2; ‘No Hunger’ is broken down into eight Targets and Target 2.4 seems particularly important to focus on at the moment.

56 Global Academy researchers are doing work that is contributing to achievement of Target 2.4 by 2030. As an example, half of all the Global Academy researchers working on Target 2.4 are based in Asia, with 36% in India alone. (Only 25% of Global Academy researchers as a whole are based in Asia). These researchers are doing vital work locally and internationally and many are focused on Asia-specific research – in particular studies of rice as a long-term staple in a changing climate, or studies of extreme high altitudes as potential food growing areas.

The flip side of this is that some areas of the world – and especially Australia/New Zealand, South America and the UK have far fewer researchers working on questions of sustainable food production than would be expected from the distribution of researchers in the Global Academy.

This must be seen as an opportunity for further researchers – the alternative is that it’s a worrying imbalance, given the necessary urgency in the face of rapid environmental changes.

For more on SDGs Goal 2 see our article about ‘Your Footprint’ – a positive  initiative taking steps to have a direct impact on the world’s ability to achieve #SDG Target 2.4