Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

  • 19 August 2019

How governments can transform food systems under climate change

Photo by Chris Gallagher on Unsplash

New paper outlines policy options to deliver sustainable, equitable global systems capable of meeting food and nutrition needs while mitigating global warming.

Feeding a growing population in the face of climate change demands a transformation in global food systems, according to a new working paper from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Read the summary.

Policy change at local, national and global levels can catalyse this transformation, and the paper identifies three key areas where policy change is needed:

  1. Reducing emissions and increasing resilience in food systems
  2. Tackling food loss and waste
  3. Shifting diets to promote nutrition and sustainability

The research also highlights examples of successful undertakings around the world. These include the Agricultural Sector Development Support Program (Kenya), which brings together scientific and local knowledge to develop climate resilient plans, and the Fight Against Food Waste Law (France), which bans stores larger than 4,305 square feet from throwing away unsold food and makes it compulsory to donate it to charities and food banks.

The paper was launched during the June 2019 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Bonn, where it was presented as part of an event on the practical steps governments can take to bring about change.

Dr Monika Zurek, senior researcher at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford and contributing author to the report, said, "Food systems have a key role to play in mitigating climate change and are at the same time highly vulnerable to its impacts.

"By some estimates, food systems account for 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but the number of chronically hungry people has again risen in the last two years while we also face rising obesity numbers around the globe. Transformational change is required for global systems to deliver basic food and nutrition needs while protecting the environment. It is essential that policy makers consider the trade-offs inherent to these multiple goals."

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