The demand for healthy, sustainably produced food is greater today than ever before. With the global population heading towards 10 billion people by 2050, this demand will inevitably continue to grow. At present, according to the FAO, more than 820 million people are hungry and 1.2 billion people suffer from chronic undernutrition. At the same time, 2 billion people are overweight.
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We face the enormous challenge of feeding people around the world in a healthy and sustainable way. With the 'Food System Approach' we are working on healthy and sustainable food systems that are future-proof.
Resilient food systems
The food system is constantly having to adapt, as we have seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, the food price rises of 2008 and various climate-related impacts. Whenever a crisis occurs, its effects are felt most strongly by vulnerable people and by our ecosystem. We want to use a Food Systems approach to reduce those vulnerabilities and increase the resilience.
4 aspects of the “Food Systems approach”
There is no single solution when it comes to tackling food problems. If you solve one problem – by increasing food production, for example – you risk creating another, such as pollution or loss of biodiversity. By taking a “Food Systems approach”, WUR is looking at all aspects of the food system, with a focus on 4 “domains”:
Integrated view on feeding the world
Looking for solutions following the ‘Food system approach’ requires us to consider all of the different elements that make up the system and influence each other. These include agricultural production, biodiversity, water availability and the risks associated with climate change.
Of course, people are an important part of the system. Farmers, consumers, middlemen, policymakers, technology developers, dieticians and activists all have a part to play. By focusing on various aspects of the food system, and ensuring our research results are solid and applicable, we are contributing to the ongoing improvement of food systems.
We do this in collaboration with our partners: governments, businesses, civil society organisations and other research institutes. And we do it at various levels: regional, national, international and global.
Food Systems approach and COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic and its consequences are having a major impact on the food system. Lockdowns lead to hunger when poor farmers in Africa can no longer get access to seeds, and we have also seen that good nutrition plays a major part in how resilient people are to the virus. The lessons we are learning from the coronavirus pandemic are being integrated into our Food Systems approach.
Read more about the effects of COVID-19 on food systems in the rapid assessments of Wageningen Centre of Development Innovation.
Wondering how the Food system approach can help you? Do not hesitate to contact our experts!