Transforming food systems to fight climate change

Transforming food systems to fight climate change

July 05, 2019

Transforming food systems to fight climate change

A group of experts, including a researcher from the Barilla Foundation, has produced a document that suggests how changing food production can reduce climate change.

Transforming the food production system in order to adapt it to climate change: this is the topic of a document prepared by the Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CGIAR-CCAFS), which was also drawn up by Marta Antonelli, Research Program Manager of the Barilla Foundation. The report was presented at the end of June at the Bonn Climate Change Conference (SB50).

Global transformation

As stated in the document, “Climate change is endangering efforts to feed and nourish a growing global population. The number of chronically hungry people is on the rise and, at the same time, more and more people have a poor diet. Environmental degradation, systemic inequality and the dire projections of climate change call for a transformation in the global food production system.”

The document analyzes how policy decisions can encourage change: “Policies are crucial to achieving a transformation, since they can remove existing barriers, encourage the application of good practices, support the sector and facilitate access to resources in a fair and balanced manner,” the CGIAR experts continued. “Policy makers need to support those who are left behind and make sure that those who are able to bear the costs are the first to take action in an ambitious way.” Basically, while the things to be done are now certain and agreed upon (reducing emissions in food production and promoting the resilience of systems to climate change; reducing food loss during production and waste; recommending diets that are good for both people and the environment; reducing inequalities), there is still an ongoing debate on how to act and what the priorities are, which may also vary according to the place where they are to be implemented.

From national to local

Policy changes need to be made on several levels: nationally, by shaping food systems, and locally, by addressing specific challenges and demonstrating potential for improvement. Together, the global and regional regulatory frameworks determine the commitments and standards to be applied both nationally and locally.

Ultimately, if national regulations catalyze change, global regulations provide the reference framework, especially with regard to climate change and all the measures that are not effective if implemented in a single country. 

The CGIAR experts’ report concludes by analyzing the financial policies that make this change economically sustainable.

According to the panel of experts, the measures to be taken are clear: urging politicians to approach the reform of the food system in a multi-sectoral way, avoiding measures that affect only one link in the production chain; promoting inclusive and transparent processes and policies to fight inequalities in food systems; and addressing the issue of gender inequality as a prerequisite for transformation.

As explained in the report, “global and regional policy are transformative only insofar as they are translated into ambitious national action with adequate support.” The transformation of food systems requires both public and private investments.” This highlights the fact that all players in the system must work together towards the same goal, which is to help countries, businesses, non-governmental organizations, farmers' organizations and other players in the food production industry to promote real change by sharing priorities, opportunities and challenges.

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