Let’s make the food system healthy and one-planet compatible
Our ambition is to contribute to a radical redesign of today’s food system. Global Footprint Network’s work mainly focuses on accounting systems that document robustly the current situation to shift decision-making towards incorporating the reality of planetary constraints. AVINA Foundation, Wageningen University, and FibL create a desirable dot for the food system on the horizon with the aim to find pathways to get to that dot. What is possible together?
Food defines our future
It is now taking over half the Earth’s biocapacity to feed us, yet we fail to provide sufficient and nutritious food for all. Food and all the other demands people place on our planet results in a total demand 73% larger than the amount Earth can renew. Yet, if biodiversity shall have a chance, humans need to use far less than one planet.
Food is a fulcrum for the future we want. It is the playing field of all the challenges we face. It remains unclear how it will be possible to sustainably feed an even larger population given climate change, resource constraints and increased demand for carbon sequestration. There is hardly a more pressing topic to address than this one.
We start from the premise that unless sustainable food is central to the economic priorities of each country, the necessary transformation is unlikely to occur. Therefore, we set ourselves as the “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” to make resource security, including a sustainable food system, a central concern of economic policy. It shall be central, not only for high-income countries like the Netherlands, but for all, particularly those in the lower-income brackets running already ecological deficits – and housing over 72% of the world population.
The Netherlands as an ideal test case
We will focus on the Netherlands as a test case for multiple reasons. First and foremost, it is a pluralistic, democratic country that debates its policy priorities. It is also a country with a strong focus on agriculture. Yet it is also extremely resource constrained: its resident’s demand exceeds what Dutch ecosystems can regenerate 7.3-fold.
With the needed energy transition (as natural gas is fading away and climate change on the horizon), Dutch mobility innovation embracing walking and bicycles as key modes of transportation, and experimentation with new food systems make it a fascinating test case. Its contradictions and creative elements make the Netherlands not only well suited to be a pilot, but potentially even a lighthouse example influencing the food debate beyond its borders.As a high-income country with a strong position in global food trade, the Netherlands are also well positioned to pave the way to food system transformation by being bold and innovative.
Accelerating change – how to move ahead
Fresh engagement approaches combined with advanced research on food circularity and planetary constraints are at the core of this emerging collaboration. This is the essence of the Food4Future initiative, supported by Swiss-based AVINA Stiftung.
This first year is all about testing engagements – starting with the Dutch Natural Capital Day on February 19, 2022. And in parallel, we are advancing our scientific tools to explore what is possible within planetary constraints. Together we’ll be stronger. And we are looking for partners as well to grow the community and amplify the impact we can have for food systems that work for all.
Dutch Overshoot Day
To mark Dutch Overshoot Day 2022, Global Footprint Network, in the framework of the Food4Future project, hosted the webinar “Facing the Dutch Overshoot Day unprepared: understanding resource security in the context of war in Ukraine”.
In advance of the webinar, we asked 10 Dutch businesspeople, entrepreneurs, and activists to share their thoughts on resource insecurity, their favorite solutions to address overshoot, and their hopes for the future. Watch the playlist (at right) to hear their responses.