The urgent need to transform the global food system

By  Ellen Grieg Andersen

Estimates show that a USD 12 trillion market value could be opened up by 2030 if the SDGs are realized, creating 380 million jobs in the process. Of these 685 billion is expected within food loss and waste, and 665 billion within agricultural solutions.

Recently the UN Food Summit was held during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Participants from around the world gathered to talk about the global food system. Critics say little to nothing was proposed as an actual solution to the critical state of our food system.

The Covid pandemic has propelled world hunger and highlighted the critical state of our food system.  The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) published a report this week on the progress of the SDGs. The report stated that the overall progress made in the food and agriculture domain is insufficient. In fact, the threats to global food security and nutrition were further compounded. Undernourishment increased from 8.4 percent in 2019 to 9.9 percent in 2020, hunger increased in every region of the world (except Eastern Asia and South Asia) from 2015 to 2020, and it is estimated that 1 in 3 people in the world are not able to access adequate food in 2020, which is an increase of 320 million people in one year. If no urgent action is taken, the related SDG targets are beyond reach at a global level by 2030.

There is no doubt that our food systems are under urgent need of a transformation to become more sustainable. To transform the food system, people, governments and the private sector needs to respond. The FAO highlighted the importance of the private sector's role in contributing to the SDGs, and a chapter in the FAO's report was on how the private sector can measure their contribution to the SDGs focused on food and agriculture. The report covers the five main subsectors of the food system: agriculture production, food processing, food wholesale, food retail, and food service. Today reporting standards within the agrifood entities have significant gaps. The FAO believes that by developing a number of core food and agriculture indicators, to measure the private sector's contribution to the SDGs, is one step towards attaining the SDGs.  

It is no doubt that food systems are quite complex and while we have a lot of the technology to combat climate change, technologies within the food systems are still in the early stages. However, with an increase in investments in agrifood tech we hope to see more business models that can contribute to making food systems more sustainable in the near future.

In our whitepaper on Circular Economy, we discuss some of the solutions that could contribute to a more sustainable food system, you can read it here:



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