FacebookTwitterLinkedInCopy LinkEmailPrint
What is "Just Transition"?

Urgent Action to Combat Climate Change and Its Impacts (SDG 13): Transforming Agriculture and Food Systems

This academic paper examines the relevance of agriculture and food systems to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 13, which urges action on climate change, and its ties to both agricultural systems and other SDGs.


This academic paper connects the agricultural applications of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 13 on climate action to the 2-degree target set by the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It then demonstrates the connections between SDG 13 and the other SDGs, specifically as they relate to food systems.

To demonstrate the links between SDGs, this paper uses the example of nitrogen fertilizer use. Runoff from excessive use of nitrogen fertilizer contaminates land and water and undermines SDG 6 (clean water), SDG 13 (climate action), SDG 14 (ocean life), and SDG 15 (life on land). Alternatively, if too little fertilizer is used, the resulting lower crop yields threaten SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (no hunger), and SDG 3 (good health). When an optimal amount of nitrogen fertilizer is used, progress is made toward achieving the above SDGs in addition to SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production).

The authors suggest progress toward the SDGs requires a transformation of food systems. They propose a theory of change based on eight interrelated recommendations: expand private sector activity and public–private partnerships; provide innovative credit and insurance; strengthen local organizations and networking; issue climate-informed advisories and early warning systems; develop digital agriculture; develop climate-resilient and low-emission practices and technologies; prioritize pathways of change; and build capacity and enable policy and institutions.