Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs' 2030 Agenda [1] includes 17 goals aimed at addressing poverty, improving healthcare and education, reducing inequality, and driving economic growth, while also combating climate change and preserving our environment.

Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause about 250,000 additional deaths per year, mainly from malnutrition [2].
Water scarcity will lead to an increase in drought and famine.
Rising temperatures will reduce the production of crucial staple foods in many regions from third world countries. This will further increase the prevalence of malnutrition, which already causes 3.1 million deaths annually.

The pandemic has also exacerbated vulnerabilities and inadequacies in global food systems, leaving hundreds of millions more chronically malnourished. The goal of ending global hunger seems hopeless with the interplay of climate change. In addition, the UN states that the world's population will increase by 2 billion people over the next 30 years and could reach a population of nearly 11 billion by 2100 [3]. With these rapid developments, it is not enough to maintain current harvest levels.

Agricultural production adapted to climate change must be increased rapidly. Today, the development and establishment of new crops adapted to the future impacts of climate change takes about 10 years. This means that the effects of climate change in 10 to 20 years' time must already be factored into the development of new crops. This impeding time span is too long to effectively counteract global famine and the loss of basic livelihoods.

The main vision of our Project OpenPlast was to combat the effects of climate change and to establish sustainable conditions in agriculture. By developing and optimizing cell-free systems for chloroplasts of diverse plant species with high agricultural utility as well as fully sequenced model plants suitable for tissue-cultures, it was possible to create a novel platform for prototyping genetic parts, screening antibiotics and tracing metabolic pathways. The so enabled prototyping saves valuable time as well as resources for the end users of our system.

By successfully establishing our system for a variety of crops that are staple foods in many countries worst affected by climate change, like rice and wheat, we have managed to strongly contribute to two different goals from the sustainable development goal-list.

Goal no. 2 issues ending hunger, achieving food security, improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture [4]. With the help of the cell-free system we have developed, it is possible to efficiently prototype parts that protect plants from the effects of climate change in a much shorter time interval than usual. The use of our systems makes it possible to, on the one hand, produce crops with higher nutritional value and, on the other hand, to establish resistance to heat, disease, drought, infestation and other problematic factors in new crops in a time-efficient manner, thereby securing the nutritional basis for people and animals worldwide.

Goal no. 13 addresses climate change countermeasures and impacts [5].
The result of accumulating greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions, ecological destruction, and land-use changes was the planet's average surface temperature rising about 1.18 °C since the late 19th century. The largest changes occurred in the last 40 years. Global temperatures are expected to rise by another 4 °C in the 21st century, with serious consequences that will endanger future generations [6].
Many of these consequences can be counteracted with optimized and rapid genetic engineering. An increased fixation rate of CO2, resistances against the effects of climate change and the production of sustainable alternatives to economically relevant substances, which are normally extracted from non-renewable resources, can be quickly and efficiently established in new crops, thus not only mitigating the effects of climate change, but also helping stop its development.

The successful development of a cell-free system of chloroplasts for various crops and model plants has immense potential to contribute to the sustainable development of agriculture and thus also to improve the living conditions of people affected by climate change.

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