Restructuring the food system to fight climate change.
If the political sphere is serious about meeting the Paris climate agreements and avoiding the disaster of exceeding a 1.5-degree rise in global temperature, Glasgow is the moment!
In 26 years of conference, the COP has set up meaningful targets related to deforestation, industrial production and increasing the use of renewable energy, but is failing to give sufficient attention to food and diets in international agreements aiming at mitigating climate change and protecting the environment.
The original ‘United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change‘ (UNFCCC) agreement from 1995 mentioned agriculture, farming and food security, but the topic has only formally been part of the process since 2017 with the creation of the ‘Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture’ (KJWA). However, so far the body has played a minor role in negotiations. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), more than one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity can be attributed to food production, while millions of people are left hungry or unable to access nutritious food worldwide.
Weighing in on this topic, the group of youth activists from ‘YOUNGO’ has published a letter in the journal Nature on 21st September 2021, demanding political actions on healthy sustainable diets, setting up five approaches that should be adopted to encourage production and consumption shifts:
- Governments should shift agricultural subsidies away from industrialized farming of animals and crops towards regenerative and agroecological production of health-promoting foods.
- Businesses and governments should design food environments in which advertising, nudging and behavioural strategies incentivize consumers to make healthy and sustainable food choices.
- Governments should incorporate sustainability into their dietary guidelines and procure sustainable, nutritious foods in schools, universities and other public settings, and establish programmes to improve the sustainable cooking skills of citizens and culinary professionals.
- Governments, businesses and academia should adopt true cost accounting of food frameworks and measure agricultural success according to quality (nutrients produced), not quantity (the calories and yield) of food.
- Governments and businesses should ensure a just transition for sectors such as factory farming so that workers’ rights and livelihoods are protected.
The DO’s “Future of Food Fellowship” community understands that environmental and health impacts of people’s diets must play a larger role in climate negotiations. Our active role in this challenge is described in our sustainability plan, targeted by:
- The promotion of regular healthy diets comprising more plants than animal-sourced, with minimal amounts of ultra-processed foods, that are humanely and sustainably produced, with local and seasonal food as key players.
- The reduction of food and packaging waste through the implementation of reusable and returnable packaging, food compostage on-site to support a circular business model and awareness-raising strategies within customers and broader community.
- The introduction of healthy and environmentally friendly habits around food in companies, schools and events through workshops and canteens, delivering vegetarian and vegan diets at least once a week, with a lower CO2 footprint.
- The integration of local farmers and producers that are aligned with regenerative and sustainable practices of farming and processing food, building a network of food partners for the planet.
- The promotion of transparent information, by offering traceable ingredients and estimates of dietary CO2 footprint of our services through regular reports.
These actions are aimed to reduce the impact of food on a local scale, with the vision of a decentralized food system, where organised hubs of food production and supply in different regions will provide an important share of local, seasonal and healthy dietary options.
As startups who are focusing on contributing to a sustainable food system, we support the initiative from YOUNGO, reaching out to world leaders at the COP26 and believe that restructuring the food system to implement regenerative and sustainable measures are keys to fighting climate change.
The following startups are participating in this open letter
(2) Trewern, J., Spajic, L., Lieb, T. et al. Youth demand political action on healthy sustainable diets. Nat Food 2, 746–747 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-021-00382-x (https://www.nature.com/articles/s43016-021-00382-x.epdf?sharing_token=0ikLxzcjfDVYOqFyHz_TZ9RgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0OsN1J1iK1MBbHL83GuJyOGDjFJmPf1uDuszhIr-_UAfQI_4f5dgzBjJg5FwyXFKpgB3Z4uP5ttvrsDQGosFaIct64nKKiEcUNYcppfrfjLYfvQ1zR1ot4-2L4r57okso8%3D)
What is the COP26?
The Conference of Parties (COP) brings world leaders together to decide on agreements to reduce global warming since 1995. The conference gathers more than 20,000 policymakers, scientists, environmental activists, climate experts, and news media from the 197 member countries of the UNFCCC. In its 26th edition, the conference is taking place at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12.
The DO´s “Future of Food Fellowship”
The Future of Food is a year-long fellowship program for entrepreneurs at the forefront of reimagining local food systems. Designed to connect ready-to-scale startups with industry experts and investors, the program consists of monthly facilitated workshops, mentorship, access to a unique digital community for sustainable food innovators, and a 3-day Future of Food Summit. This program is led by the DO, who work with companies and organization to create purposeful transformation.