Nature Correspondence: The urgency of food system transformation is now irrefutable

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Nature Correspondence: The urgency of food system transformation is now irrefutable

Read it here: Nature Food correspondence 2020

Published on 28th September 2020, correspondence from the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition in Nature Food, puts forward the argument that the urgency of food system transformation is now irrefutable and proposes a set of key policy actions to be applied across the four domains of the global food system.

“Food systems commonly operate across international borders, and their failures therefore have global implications. Governments and their development partners, including the UN, must work together urgently to build on existing mechanisms to support science and policy engagement with food systems transformation.”, say Foresight Lead Expert Group members Professor Patrick Webb and Professor Tim Benton, together with Global Panel Co-Chair Sir John Beddington, Director Professor Sandy Thomas and advisers Niamh Kelly and Derek Flynn.


Poor diets are the main contributor to the global burden of disease, accounting for 20% of early deaths worldwide. Poor nutrition can also lead to reduced earning potential and increased costs for healthcare pushes individuals and families into inter-generational cycles of poverty and deprivation, and perpetuates inequality and disadvantage. Currently, 3 billion people are unable to afford a healthy diet. Threats posed by climate change — shifts in temperature and rainfall, and more frequent and damaging weather anomalies — directly and indirectly, disrupt the production, processing, transport and marketing of food.


It is against the background of these diverse policy challenges, along with the  COVID-19 pandemic, which has further exposed the fragility of global food systems, that the authors highlight four priority policy actions to transition food systems towards sustainable, healthy diets: (1) ensure foods essential for healthy diets are produced sustainably and in sufficient quantity; (2) enable food to be stored, transported, processed and marketed so that losses and waste are avoided and opportunities for employment and income growth are developed; (3) make healthy diets affordable for all; and (4) empower citizens to choose healthy, sustainable diets.


The authors call on governments and their development partners, to use the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit, UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) and the Nutrition for Growth Summit as mechanisms for meaningful change.