How do we ensure that everyone, everywhere in the world, has enough food and that this food is also healthy? And how do we make sure that we produce this food sustainably and avoid food waste? These are questions that Wageningen University & Research (WUR) works on every day.
People, food and circumstances
The forecast is that in 2050 there will be about 10 billion people on our planet. A lot of mouths to fill. How are we going to do that? And there is more. Did you know, for example, that:
- More than 820 million people are hungry (source: FAO)
- 1.2 billion people are chronically undernourished
- But there are also 2 billion people who are overweight
- And that climate changes, pandemics and price developments have an effect on the amount of food and the affordability of this food
This immediately shows that you cannot look at things in isolation from each other. There is no one solution that will solve everything. In fact, if you increase food production, for example, you run the risk of creating another problem - such as the depletion of natural resources, pollution of the environment or loss of biodiversity.
Because one domain has an effect on another, we call it a 'Food System'.
Getting a grip on the food system
Mapping out the food system proved to be quite a puzzle. To do so, researchers from Wageningen University and Research Centre with expertise in plant, animal, food, environmental, social and economic sciences are combining their knowledge.
They are developing the ‘Food Systems Approach’. This approach looks at all components of the food system and breaks it down into four interconnected parts. To each one of which you can link clear goals:
- Sufficient food for everyone
- Ensuring a good diet
- Fair distribution of costs and revenues
- Climate-proof, sustainable and with biodiversity conservation
When researchers or organisations set out to solve food problems, they can use this approach to assess in advance if no new problems are created.