Understanding the Food System for Sustainable Development
A food system refers to a system of interconnected processes and systems that have an impact on our diet, health and community development. The food system is complex because it has many components. Food systems impact not only the food we eat but also our environment, communities and agriculture. Understanding food systems is crucial for sustainable development.
Five Action Tracks
The Food System is multi-faceted and five action tracks were created to assist the global community in making progress. Each action track addresses a specific problem facing the food system. The goals of the tracks are to create new opportunities for collaboration, identify novel solutions, and catalyze changes. Each action track is headed by an UN agency.
Action Track 1 focuses primarily on addressing food insecurity, and ensuring food is affordable for all. It encourages changes in consumption patterns, including the shift to more sustainable production and consumption. It also promotes the inclusion of people in the food system and helps them to become more resilient to shocks and disasters.
Complexity of food systems
In recent years, the complexity and interconnectedness of food systems has been recognized worldwide as a problem. This has prompted policymakers to look at ways that these systems can be managed better for social and environmental welfare. These systems can also impact human health, economic development, poverty reduction, and even human health. Global discussions have been hampered due to conceptual ambiguity about the nature of food systems, and their effects on individuals and communities.
Complex systems such as food systems can be complex with seemingly endless number of actors, processes, or elements. However, there are approaches that reduce the complexity of these systems. One approach is called a food systems typology. This classification is used to simplify the vast complexity of food systems by grouping related country-level systems into distinct types.
Impacts of changes in food systems on sustainability
Limiting food waste is a major challenge in sustainable food systems. We can reduce food losses and increase food availability. Many estimates suggest that about thirty to forty percent of the food produced worldwide is wasted. Unfortunately, data is sparse for these estimates, particularly for the developing countries. The price elasticity of food losses is also unknown.
Technological innovations are essential to improve the sustainability and efficiency of food systems. Different types of food systems can be monitored and controlled using new technologies, such as satellites and artificial Intelligence (AI). This will allow for a transition to more sustainable foods.