How can we produce and consume low-carbon, resilient, and nutritious food?
Agriculture occupies more than 40 percent of the Earth’s land and is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Farming, fishing, transporting, processing, and distributing food supports 28 percent of human livelihood, including 470 million smallholder farmers who often depend on less than 2 hectares for both income and sustenance. By 2050, that system will need to feed 3 billion more people while reducing net emissions to zero to align with Paris Agreement targets.
New trends make transforming the food system more difficult. As people move out of poverty, they buy more meat, increasing the amount of land used to raise and feed animals, and further burdening overexploited fish stocks. Simultaneously, humanity gets 75 percent of our food from just 17 species, decreasing resilience to diseases and other climate-related stresses and shocks. Finally, with 30 percent of food lost or wasted, a third of the food system’s environmental impact happens without feeding anyone.
New data-rich technologies, combined with the revival of traditional practices such as intercropping or indigenous fisheries management, hold great promise. But new business models are required to bring these approaches to far more people, while further innovation is still needed to transform the food system at scale.
The MIT Solve community is looking for technology-based solutions for a low-carbon global food system that provides nutrition with minimal environmental impact. To that end, Solve seeks solutions that:
- Support small-scale producers with access to inputs, capital, and knowledge to improve yields while sustaining productivity of land and seas;
- Scale practices and incentives for larger farmers and ranchers to decrease carbon emissions, land-use change, nutrient runoff, or water pollution;
- Improve supply chain practices to reduce food loss, scale new business models for producer-market connections, and create low-carbon cold chains; and
- Promote the shift towards low-impact, diverse, and nutritious diets, including low-carbon protein options.
Solver Funding, Prize, and Partnership Eligibility for the Sustainable Food Systems Challenge
All solutions selected for Solve’s four current Global Challenges will receive a $10,000 grant funded by Solve. Solver teams will be selected by a panel of cross-sector judges at Solve Challenge Finals during UN General Assembly week in New York City on September 20, 2020.
In addition to Solve funding, the following prizes are available to Solver teams selected for the Sustainable Food Systems Challenge. To be considered for a prize, complete the prize-specific question within the application. You do not need to meet these requirements to apply to the Sustainable Food Systems Challenge:
The Andan Prize for Innovation in Refugee Inclusion
The Andan Prize for Innovation in Refugee Inclusion is open to solutions that advance the economic, financial, and political inclusion of refugees. The prize is funded by Andan Foundation, a Swiss non-profit foundation dedicated to supporting solutions that promote refugee resilience, self-reliance and integration. Up to $100,000 will be granted to up to four eligible Solver teams from across any of Solve’s four current Global Challenges.
Innovation for Women Prize
Solutions that use innovative technology to improve quality of life for women and girls are eligible for the Innovation for Women Prize. This prize is funded by the Vodafone Americas Foundation, which supports technology-focused projects that advance the needs of women and girls, and that promote a world where women’s voices can be celebrated. Up to $75,000 will be granted across up to three Solver teams from any of Solve’s four current Global Challenges.