Our Actions are our Future: Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together.
Today – Friday 16th October – is World Food Day, the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations with its goal to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. We congratulate the FAO on reaching this anniversary and all the good work the organisation does.
At the same time, it is a day for all of us to reflect on the challenges facing the global food system. Despite advances in agricultural production methods and yields, we fail to produce and distribute sufficient food to nourish an increasing global population. Many production systems are damaging the natural resources on which they or other food production systems rely, and many food producers receive subsistence income from their products. The 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of Zero Hunger looks as far away today as it did when the SDGs were first developed.
Sobering facts from the FAO’s World Food Day 2020 webpage:
- Over 2 billion people do not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food whilst the global population is still growing and expected to reach almost 10 billion by 2050.
- Nearly 690 million people are hungry, up 10 million since 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic could add between 83-132 million people to this number.
- The impact of malnutrition in all its forms – undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, as well as overweight and obesity – on the global economy is estimated at USD 3.5 trillion per year.
- Today, only nine plant species account for 66% of total crop production, despite the fact that there are at least 30,000 edible plants. We need to grow a greater variety of foods to better nourish people and sustain the planet.
- Approximately 14% of food produced for human consumption is lost each year between the “farm” and the wholesale market. Even more food is wasted at the retail food and consumer stages.
Our ability to effectively nourish an increasing global population is one of the key challenges facing the human race. The global food system is incredibly complex, the world’s largest economic sector, with multiple inputs and outputs. It is often politicised, is subject to various socio-cultural forces, and touches every human being on the planet. Charting a course for the food system of the future requires quality thinking and discussion built on strong evidence-based foundations.
The Sustainable Nutrition Initiative was founded to meaningfully contribute to this discussion. Some key thoughts as we consider the future of food:
- Nutrition comes first – if we don’t nourish the global population, we have failed
- An optimal food system must first be practical
- Build a food system from nutrient-rich foods first
- At a planetary level we have less choices than we do as individuals
The DELTA Model has been developed to help people explore different futures for the food system for themselves.
The goal remains to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. We can all help towards this through understanding the food system in all its complexity, strengths, and weaknesses, leading to better informed discussion on the future of food for all of us.
Image from FAO World Food Day 2020 website