The global food system is expected to feed a world population of 9.8 billion by 2050. However, it is under threat from all sides. The system that produces and delivers food from farm to consumers is responsible for 19-29% of greenhouse gas emissions. The system is also threatened by the impacts of climate change, as higher temperatures, extreme weather, drought, and sea level rises take their toll on harvests.
The alarming report submitted by the UN Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services highlighted how agriculture is also a prime contributor to the catastrophic loss in biodiversity globally.
Several recent reports on sustainable food systems have urged large reductions in meat consumption as their primary recommendation. Intensive livestock production is responsible for about 14.5% of annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Owing to this data, several studies have concluded that a 50% reduction in meat and sugar consumption is recommended as part of a healthy human and planetary diet.
However, the recommendation is not endorsed by all experts. However, it is clear that over-reliance on too few varieties and species leaves the food system more exposed to climate change and puts food security and nutrition at severe risk.
The FAO’s 2019 State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture report points out that of some 6,000 plant species cultivated for food, fewer than 200 contribute substantially to global food output and only nine accounts for 66% of total crop production.
Transforming food systems to address these risks will require collaboration across the food value chain. To work towards this, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has initiated a drive to transform the food system and to create a set of business solutions for industry change. The initiative Food Reform for Sustainability and Health, more popularly known as FReSH, has more than 30 companies participating across the globe. FReSH is supported by the World Economic Forum, the We Mean Business coalition and the North American Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance. It aims to bring 100 leading companies into the fold by 2030.
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The CSR Journal Team