There is an obvious connection between poor people’s food security and the preservation of the environment in which they live. Yet there is little consensus about the nature of this relationship. Unless their interactions are better understood, there is a danger that policies for environmental protection – in an increasingly environmentally-concerned aid climate – will unknowingly compromise food security.
An obvious illustration is the promotion of goats in marginal areas as an insurance against harvest failure; a policy which enhances food security but may have disastrous environmental consequences.
This issue of the IDS Bulletin arises from a new research initiative at IDS, linking the work of the Environment Programme and the Food Security Unit. A number of workshops held at IDS considered whether two such diverse and extensive fields of inquiry could usefully be linked and, if so, what kinds of approaches would be most appropriate.
The IDS Bulletin articles are the result of these workshops. Taken together with a Discussion Paper setting out the issues [Davies, Leach and David 1991] and Development Bibliography reviewing relevant literature [David 1991], they form a starting point for more focused research on particular conflicts and complementarities between the pursuit of food security and environmental goals.