Global priorities of environmental issues to combat food insecurity and biodiversity loss

Laura Scherer, Jens-Christian Svenning, Jing Huang, Colleen Seymour, Brody Sandel, Nathaniel Mueller, Matti Kummu, Mateete Bekunda, Helge Bruelheide, Zvi Hochman, Stefan Siebert, Oscar Rueda, Peter M. van Bodegom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
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Various environmental challenges are rapidly threatening ecosystems and societies globally. Major interventions and a strategic approach are required to minimize harm and to avoid reaching catastrophic tipping points. Setting evidence-based priorities aids maximizing the impact of the limited resources available for environmental interventions. Focusing on protecting both food security and biodiversity, international experts prioritized major environmental challenges for intervention based on three comprehensive criteria - importance, neglect, and tractability. The top priorities differ between food security and biodiversity. For food security, the top priorities are pollinator loss, soil compaction, and nutrient depletion, and for biodiversity conservation, ocean acidification and land and sea use (especially habitat degradation) are the main concerns. While climate change might be the most pressing environmental challenge and mitigation is clearly off-track, other issues rank higher because of climate change's high attention in research. Research and policy agendas do not yet consistently cover these priorities. Thus, a shift in attention towards the high-priority environmental challenges, identified here, is needed to increase the effectiveness of global environmental protection. (C) 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Article number139096
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Pioritization
  • Effectiveness
  • Environmental protection
  • Global change
  • Agriculture
  • Ecosystems


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