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A Sustainable Food System that becomes part of the solution

The Food System (FS) is becoming increasingly unsustainable for human health and the planet. So, how can we solve the FS matters to deliver healthier, more sustainable products that nourish our bodies without destroying the environment? Food System discussion has a place on the COP27 table.

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A sustainable Food System (SFS) incorporates all stakeholders and their interconnected value-adding actions from Agriculture, Forestry, Fishery, and Economic, Societal to their rooted natural environments.

The FS combines sub-systems, such as farming, Waste Management, Input Supply and more, and acts together with other crucial systems, such as Energy, Trade, Health system, and more. Consequently, an operational change in the FS might make a difference in another system; for example, a procedure supporting more biofuel in the Energy system will substantially influence the FS.

SFS is a system that provides Food Security and Nutrition for everyone in a way that the Economic, Social and Environmental bases produce Nutrition and do not compromise food security for forthcoming generations, meaning:

·       Economic Sustainability – It is profitable all through.

·       Social Sustainability – It has broad-based benefits for society.

·       Environmental Sustainability – It has a positive or neutral impact on the natural environment.

SFS sits at the core of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). An agreement embraced in 2015, the SDGs set up strategic transformations in Agriculture and Food systems to put an end to hunger and accomplish food security and better Nutrition by 2030. The global Food demands leaders to reshape processes to become more advantageous, more all-encompassing of people in need and relegated populations, capable of delivering healthy and wholesome diets to all, environmentally sustainable and resilient. These challenging goals call for the interrelated fusion of actions at global, local, regional and national levels.

Transforming Food Systems

FS must be pondered from the perspective of fast urbanisation, population expansion, developing wealth, altering consumption models, globalisation as climate change, and the exhaustion of natural resources. The advances in FSs have brought countless optimistic results, mainly in developing countries. These outcomes encompass the spreading out of off-farm occupation openings since Food industries have matured and the expansion of Food choices furthers local choices, therefore gratifying consumers’ likings in terms of quality, appearance, and taste.

The related fast operational renovations have also led to considerable challenges, possibly wide-ranging after-effects for Food safety and nourishment. It involves exceeding processed, high-calorie and low-nutritional value food products currently broadly offered and ingested; minor manufacturers and Agri-enterprises have restrained the admission to sustainable markets; excessive levels of food deficiency and waste.

Food security and human and animal health problems have escalated lately and augmented energy-concentration and ecological footprint related to the broadening and industrialisation of Food SC. Consequently, it is fundamental to comprehend how various FS functions and ensure these systems advance to reduce their adverse impacts whilst enhancing their benefits.

Constraints of existing approaches 

The complications of FS demand from leaders a more holistic and synchronise methodology. Much Food safety and nutrition matters are puzzling, and leaders’ explanations challenge companies to go beyond the disciplinary sector and established frontiers.

The escalating globalisation of FSs and the interactions across different levels require integrated actions taken by public and private actors and by the interested party at national, local, regional and global levels. It is an interdisciplinary response from Trade, Health, Environment, Agriculture, policy and gender norms, Transportation, Education, and infrastructure of all kinds. It demands a synergetic collaboration from all perspectives.

Leaders must focus not only on supplying Food but on its security and Nutrition; to work in collaboration, not neglecting other areas which could cause the FS underperformance and avoid further severe impacts and risking others.

Just now, other approaches gained drive. For instance, the Value Chain (VC) advanced approach uses systems that examine how value is generated and obtained by producers and stakeholders, including workers, governments, and consumers. It focuses on systemic analyses and integral involvements to enhance the chain performance.

Smallholders, such as farmers, often combine various growing crops with livestock, Fishery, and Forestry activities. They also focus on a specific item, so different VCs’ interdependencies are frequently neglected.

The Market Systems approach recognises markets as complex adaptive systems to address constant systemic limitations to market connections affecting many VCs, such as reinforcing linkages to financial services for farmers.

Conclusions: adopting FSs methodology will have feasible repercussions for developed strategies, contributing to FAO’s work. Identify potential synergies to ensure our targeted impact is positive by combining expertise among several vital areas and different organisations and establishing clear indicators to monitor the effects on each dimension of sustainability.

All Food industry leaders are looking to COP27 to discuss these approaches and hope to have answers to the following questions:

How would these procedures impact the use of natural resources? Would these measures have negative impacts on consumer health? Would these measures impact poor and rich farmers differently, thus it might increase division among them?

Dave Food

M: +44 7775 861863

Photo by Walter Otto on Unsplash