A sustainable food system for the European Union

Working group members

Peter Jackson
Chair
Professor
University of Sheffield
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Jeroen Candel
Assistant Professor
Wageningen University
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Anna Davies
Professor
Trinity College Dublin
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Hugo de Vries
National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (France)
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Cristiane Derani
Professor
Universities of Santa Catarina and Cambridge
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Verica Dragović-Uzelac
Professor
University of Zagreb
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Alf Håkon Hoel
Professor
University of Tromsø
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Lotte Holm
Professor
University of Copenhagen
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Piergiuseppe Morone
Professor
University of Rome
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Marianne Penker
Professor
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
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Marta Guadalupe Rivera Ferre
Agroecology Chair
University of Vic, Central University of Catalonia
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Ruta Śpiewak
Adjunct Professor
Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of Rural and Agricultural Development
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Katrien Termeer
Professor
Wageningen University
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John Thøgersen
Professor
Aarhus University
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Erik Mathijs
Invited contributor

Food lies at the heart of our lives. It is vital for our survival, and links us to our natural and social environment in a unique way. But our food system is unsustainable. How can we ensure future food security without treating people unfairly or leaving them behind?

Food systems have complex social, economic and ecological components, and radical transformation is needed to make them sustainable. This report from SAPEA lays out the science on how that transition can happen in an inclusive, just and timely way.

What the report says

The global demand for food will increase in the future. To meet this demand, it is not enough simply to increase productivity in a sustainable way. We also need to change from linear mass consumption to a more circular economy — which will mean changing our norms, habits and routines.

The evidence shows that this kind of behaviour change needs to happen collectively, not just individually. So we need joined-up governance at local, national and international levels.

Food systems also contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. This can be addressed by reducing waste or directing it back into the supply chain.

A mix of different measures will be most effective. The evidence shows that taxation is one of the most effective ways to modify behaviour. Accreditation and labelling schemes can also have an impact.

Meanwhile, reform of European agriculture and fisheries policies offer great opportunities to develop resilience and sustainability.

But there is not yet enough evidence to know for sure exactly what works in practice, so the steps we take should be carefully evaluated, and trade-offs anticipated.

Debate and impact

Policy impactMedia coverage

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