Food systems need urgent and significant transformation to become sustainable. The global food system is responsible for about one-third of global human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, with the majority of those emissions attributed to agriculture and land use (Crippa et al. 2001). The way the food system operates today contributes to biodiversity loss and environmental degradation, and it is also one of the world’s most vulnerable sectors to extreme weather, storms and other climate shocks. At the same time the food sector is not delivering what we need to feed a growing population – malnutrition affects an increasing number of people with about 9.9% of the global population impacted in 2020.
That is an increase from 8.4% in 2019, where the percentage remained virtually unchanged during the period 2014 –2019 (FAO 2021). Companies in the food sector, such as Oatly, are committing to ambitious goals to take action on climate change, including focusing on sustainability within their supply chains, addressing land use change and managing waste. But we need support from governments to enable quicker action in the food sector.
Unfortunately, the sector is significantly under-represented on the COP 26 agenda and in global efforts to combat climate change when it should be considered an essential climate driver and part of the climate solution. For the health of people and the planet, we must elevate the cultivation, production and consumption of food in global climate action efforts.
This white paper is part of a series presented at GLF Climate: Forests, Food, Finance – Frontiers of Change. In this set of 14 white papers, scientists, practitioners, business leaders, activists and innovators provide critical insights on how we can transform society towards carbon neutrality and harmony with nature. Read this paper and the rest of the series to learn more about the issues covered at GLF Climate, and register now to join the conversation live.