The spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has further demonstrated the fragility of the global food systems, but offers the opportunity to reset the way we produce, distribute and consume food in a long-term sustainable perspective. We need shared and systemic solutions and a global commitment to redesign the future.

The Time to Fix the Global Food System is Now: 10 Actions From Farm to Fork

10 Actions From Farm to Fork

In this time of panic and uncertainty, we can see the deep interconnectedness between human, animal, plant and environmental health. It is also clear that world's food and agriculture systems need to be fixed - that was the case pre-pandemic - and the time to act to fix the food system is now.
It is time to truly revolutionize, recreate and reinvent our approach to food, nutrition and health. COVID-19 is providing unprecedented opportunities to create a resilient food system that is truly regenerative and restorative, healthier for people, and leaves no one behind. This is also essential to accelerate the transition towards the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which are all directly or indirectly connected to food.

All of us, as members of the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation Advisory Group, come from different disciplines-we have among us medical and public health professionals, and experts on climate change and finance, nutrition, international development and food policy, economics, environmental sciences and ecology. As citizens, academics, researchers and activists, we propose 10 bold and interdisciplinary actions to finding ways to nourish both people and the planet today and in the future.

  1. Create Better Standards and Terminology:
    Develop internationally agreed-upon standards for regenerative agricultural practices and agroecology, as well as common definitions for healthy and sustainable food systems and food. Implement global food safety, nutrition and quality standards that protect and strengthen plant health and animal health and welfare, while meeting dietary needs and respecting food preferences and cultures.
  2. Improve Measurement:
    Define a set of indicators to measure how the global food system is contributing to nutrient density, preventing diet-related diseases, and protecting natural resources and ecosystems. Highlight areas for improvement from farm to fork, including the amount of food loss and food waste on farms, in kitchens, and at restaurants and the potential of regenerative and agroecological agricultural practices to boost soil health, preserve water resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Encourage Businesses to Focus on Health and Sustainability:
    Encourage and assist food and agriculture businesses to become key actors of change; incorporate sustainability into corporate strategies; contribute to the adoption of healthy and sustainable dietary patterns; build transparency into processes and along the supply chain; foster regional and local supply chains to improve distribution, contribute to ensure the right to food.
  4. Digitize Food and Agriculture Information:
    Incentivize the best use of technological, digital and space-based solutions by all actors in the food chain. Invest in more accessible tracking tools to collect information; create knowledge and data-sharing networks for farmers and producers to facilitate more sustainable choices and innovation; employ data-driven development and testing for more sustainable solutions; and ensure data protection and regulation.
  5. Identify the True Cost of Food:
    Identify the true cost of our production and consumption choices and create metrics to objectively measure impact; Mobilize the financial sector to improve public health, invest more sustainably in the agri-food sector, prevent environment externalities and boost resilience in land use; inform citizens on the economic, social and environmental impacts associated with daily food choices; and mobilize policymakers to incorporate the logic of the True Cost of Food into policies and initiatives.
  6. Improve Seed Security, Diversity, and Soil Regeneration:
    Protect plants from emerging pests and diseases by reducing dependency on pesticides; remove farmers' barriers to access quality seeds for plant varieties adapted to the pressures of climate change; and ensure easier market access and protection for traditional and locally adapted seed varieties. Adopt sustainable agricultural practices to improve soil health and fertility, biodiversity, water conservation, and nutrient density in crops.
  7. Mobilize all actors:
    Incentivize municipalities and public institutions to play their part in enabling healthy and sustainable food environments. Develop integrated, shared responsibilities between civil society, business, policymakers, and producers to design and implement policies and actions, while facilitating dialogue and cooperation between cities, creating "hubs" of sustainable development worldwide.
  8. Increase Awareness and Education:
    Raise awareness on the systematic connection between good nutrition and the environment; take action on education programs and awareness campaigns to make production and consumption patterns healthy and sustainable; and build responsible food behaviors to reduce the environmental, economic and social impact of food waste.
  9. Enable Healthy and Sustainable Diets and Empower Eaters:
    Encourage informed, healthy and sustainable food choices while also ensuring better access and affordability to nutritious and high-quality food. Create enabling food environments that make sustainable and healthy food choices the preferred choices, also through proper nutrition and sustainable labelling to increase awareness of the interconnected nature of nutrition, climate, environment and social equity.
  10. Build Global Resiliency:
    Implement ambitious sustainability initiatives that address climate change and increase global resilience of food systems with international cooperation and commitment, such as reducing inappropriate antimicrobial use in farmed animals and aquaculture to prevent microbial resistance; protecting natural ecosystems by reducing wildlife trade and global deforestation; and boosting resilience in land use.

The challenges we face impact each of us.
We need shared and systemic solutions and a global commitment to redesign the future.
There is only One Health, for humans, animals, plants and the environment.

The time to act is now.
Join us in working toward this universal purpose.

Marta Antonelli1, Million Belay2, Barbara Buchner3, Danielle Nierenberg4, Livia Pomodoro5, Gabriele Riccardi6, Camillo Ricordi7, Gerry Salole8, Riccardo Valentini9, Stefano Zamagni10

1 Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation
2 Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa
3 Climate Policy Initiative
4 Food Tank
5 Milan Center for Food Law and Policy
6 University of Naples Federico II
7 University of Miami
8 European Foundation Centre
9 University of Tuscia, RUDN University of Moscow
10 John Hopkins University

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