Biodiversity en food systems

Nature-based solutions that are inspired by or make use of natural processes are considered to have good potentials for increasing climate resilience and circularity in food systems operating under climate change conditions. This project generates knowledge about potentials and limitations of nature-based interventions and pathways to ensure food security, to deliver a safe and healthy diet, to produce equal and equitable benefits and to sustainably maintain the environment, while using minimal natural resources.

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of the present time and is now affecting every country on every continent, especially the global south. Societies everywhere are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, which include changing weather patterns, rising sea level and more extreme weather events. Climate change is affecting socio-economic systems and ecosystems all over the world and impacts, such as floods, seawater intrusion, droughts and heat waves, will become more acute and severe, and less predictable in the coming decades. Climate change threatens the capacity of ecosystems and natural and social capital to support the production, accessibility and affordability of safe and nutritious food needed to feed an increasing global population. The impacts of global climate change on food systems are expected to be widespread, complex, geographically and temporally variable, and vulnerability is profoundly influenced by socioeconomic conditions. 

In addition, food systems are challenged to produce sufficient, accessible, affordable and healthy food in a sustainable way within their planetary boundaries. For food systems operating within their system’s boundaries means shifting towards circular food systems. Circular food systems aim to reduce the losses, wastes and avoidable environmental impacts in the full supply chain; from agricultural production to food processing and distribution and retail to finally the customers. However, circularity in food systems can also be understood as increasing efficient use of raw materials. Both nature-based solutions and circular food systems aim to enhancing environmental sustainability.

Today, many researchers are studying how we can intentionally shift towards circular food systems and increase their climate resilience. The concept of ‘nature-based solutions’ (NBS) was introduced specifically to promote nature as a means (IUCN, 2012) or as a source of inspiration (EC, 2015) for providing solutions to climate mitigation and adaptation challenges. Nature-based solutions are increasingly encouraged in and/or promising effects are achieved in disaster risk management and water security sectors. Only recently, the term NBS is explicitly mentioned in relation to addressing food systems’ challenges under climate change conditions. However, the knowledge underpinning this claim is fragmented and insufficiently existent (Nesshöver et al., 2017).