Something’s got to give.
The world’s population is growing in size and wealth and shifting toward urban areas, driving the demand for food and clothing. Land is being converted and degraded, with disastrous effects on human health and the environment. In the absence of serious and imminent change, the next generation will inherit a planet that has been damaged and plundered, and many will suffer unnecessarily–from hunger, malnutrition and preventable disease.
In this interview, James Lomax, a programme manager with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), discusses the transformation required to meet the demands of a growing world population with diminishing resources.
When we discuss global food systems, what exactly are we talking about? What is the problem with the way we are currently producing and consuming food?
Traditionally, discussions of food production and consumption have looked at a specific part of the process–agriculture or diets, for example. But these are only parts of a very elaborate picture.
Today, more than 800 million people in the world are hungry, 2 billion people are suffering from micronutrient deficiencies; and 2 billion people are overweight or obese. But these groups are not necessarily distinct. Not all malnutrition is the result of food insufficiency. So, when we consider food as a component of global health, it is not simply a matter of quantity.
Another issue is the pressure that food systems place on the environment. Currently, food systems are responsible for 70 per cent of the water extracted from nature, cause 60 per cent of biodiversity loss, and generate up to a third of human greenhouse gas emissions. It is poignant that in producing food, we have contributed to climate change, which has come to threaten food security.
Now, when we talk about global food systems, we are using a more holistic lens, expanding the conversation to include the entire value chain–not only production and consumption, but also food processing, packaging, transport, retail and food services. By considering the entire system, we are better positioned to understand problems and to address them, in a more connected and integrated way.
Read the full article: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/hungry-change-global-food-system