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.
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.
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”:
Looking for solutions under the “Food Systems 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.