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Food and society

The Food Sustainability Index presented at the European Parliament in Brussels

The BCFN Foundation presented the Food Sustainability Index results to the EU Commission and EU Parliament in Brussels, to discuss how pursuing a sustainable food system fits the present and the future political agenda.

The Food Sustainability Index (FSI), a collaboration between the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation and the Economist Intelligence Unit, ranks 25 countries on food system sustainability, spanning across issues related to agriculture, nutrition, and food loss and waste. The current food system is not sustainable, and feeding the growing global population will prove challenging in the years to come. Food systems must reach the top of the policy agenda, and policy makers must identify areas of priority and the need for action. With the Food Sustainability Index, the BCFN Foundation provides a benchmarking tool that wants to contribute to the global efforts in achieving the SDGs by 2030, by considering that food can affect all the 17 SDGs.

In Brussels, on December 7th 2016, a EIU and BCFN delegation presented the FSI and discussed sustainability issues with practicing members of the EU Commission and EU Parliament, while listening to the policymakers’ current endeavors and future plans for these goals. Part of the delegation consisted of two young researchers of BCFN, Katarzyna Dembska and Francesca Allievi.

In the morning a meeting with Marco Valletta took place, Member of Cabinet, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andruikaitis, and Elisabetta Siracusa, Deputy Head of Cabinet, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan.

The FSI was received in a very positive manner, with the idea that those who deal with food with intellectual honesty take the three pillars into account. According to Marco Valletta, the European Commission is taking the issue of tackling food waste very seriously. Reducing food waste has enormous potential for reducing resource consumption, save money and lower the environmental impact of food production and consumption. Food waste prevention is an integral part of the Commission's new Circular Economy Package to stimulate Europe's transition towards a circular economy, which will boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable growth and generate new jobs. Among other initiatives to support food waste reduction in the EU, the Commission will create a new platform (EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste), involving both Member States and actors in the food chain in order to help define measures needed to achieve the food waste SDG, facilitate inter-sector co-operation, and share best practice and results achieved. He also underlined how policies should be developed for the use of food waste in animal feeds, as well as to ease the donation of unsold and still edible foods. He suggested that the results of the FSI should become common knowledge and offered the possibility to present them in meetings with specific working groups.


Elisabetta Siracusa is notably responsible for EU spending on agriculture and rural development and the simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and is well-placed to exchange on the Index pillar on sustainable agriculture. She stressed how it is only by measuring something that we can act to change it if necessary, and the FSI can play a fundamental role towards this. She also reflected on how central is the role of agriculture in order to improve sustainability in our society, with farmers as main actors of change.
The 2016 EU Agricultural Outlook Conference was just taking place, and Elisabetta Siracusa invited the BCFN to participate in the public consultation, an opportunity to reflect on the future of agriculture.Suggestions for improvements of the FSI and dissemination opportunities were also made, such as the inclusion in the Index of the EU as a whole.

At the end of the day, the FSI was presented in a debate with a number of stakeholders and two members of the European Parliament, Sirpa Pietikäinen and Angélique Delahaye.
Both had very positive and encouraging words towards the FSI: the need for new alliances and a cross-cutting perspective on these issues was underlined, further supporting the work that the FSI does by looking at all three pillars together.

Overall, the day spent in Brussels gave a positive feedback on the work done so far and a lot of inspiration on how it could be further improved. The Food Sustainability Index provided the audience with helpful “food for thought” on the urgency of a concrete changing in food production and consumption all over the world, establishing a more sustainable food system and achieving the UN SDGs.
The encouragement comes with the realization that the EU is already working on policies that are in line with what the FSI suggests should be improved.

The BCFN looks forward to bringing the results of the FSI to an even wider audience engaging with more institutions and analyzing best practices from around the world, to render food systems more sustainable and protect the future of our planet and future generations.
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