THE ROYAL IRISH ACADEMY IS IRELAND'S LEADING BODY OF EXPERTS IN THE SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES

New SAPEA Report on Food Sustainability

09 April 2020

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PDF icon SAPEA report: A sustainable food system for the European Union PDF icon SAPEA review: A sustainable food system for the European Union

Food lies at the heart of our lives 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.

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