What do policy and food systems researchers have to say about using policy and scientific advice in transforming food systems? Food systems are complex systems and it can be difficult to ensure success and avoid trade-offs. However, taking a systems view is rarely enough to avoid this. In the context of uncertainty, science does not always provide clear answers. How can we move forward? In this piece, Abigail Muscat reviews some of the latest research on policy solutions and presents three key lessons for driving sustainable change. She argues we should avoid the traps of ignoring unacknowledged assumptions, ignoring multiple viewpoints and sticking to a singular framing of food systems.
In Conversation With … Lian Pin Koh
As part of our coverage ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit and COP26, we’re asking some of the world’s leading sustainability researchers to weigh in on what outcomes they hope to see at the events.
In this installment, we speak to Professor Lian Pin Koh, Director of the Centre for Nature-Based Climate Solutions at the National University of Singapore. Professor Koh spoke to us about food security, carbon finance and the vital need for nature-based climate solutions.
Solar Drying Technologies: A Piece of the Puzzle in Reducing Food Loss
When you think about sun-dried food, you might think of pantry staples and beloved ingredients, from the raisins in your morning müsli to the sun-dried tomatoes in a fancy risotto. But did you know that solar drying is also an essential component of sustainable food systems? In this article we explore how solar drying works and how it fits into the bigger sustainability picture.
What is the ‘Planetary Health Diet’?
You may have heard about the so-called ‘Planetary Health Diet.’ In January of 2019, a group of 37 leading researchers on sustainability and nutrition from 16 countries published the EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets From Sustainable Food Systems. Its objective was to answer one vital question: Can we feed a future population of 10 billion people a healthy diet within planetary boundaries? We discuss the conclusions of the report and address some misconceptions that have sprung up since its publication.
In Conversation With … Sir Charles Godfray
2021 is a big year for sustainability policy, with several major climate conferences on the horizon. In the run-up to this autumn’s COP26 and UN Food Systems Summit meetings, we’re sitting down with some of the world’s leading sustainability scholars to get their perspective on what these conferences can achieve and how the public can push for better sustainability outcomes. In our first interview, we spoke with Professor Sir Charles Godfray, director of the Oxford Martin School.
2021: A Watershed Year for Sustainability?
2021 holds great potential for systemic shifts in responses to climate change, with several major international climate conferences set to take place before the year is out. As world leaders are due to make major decisions on biodiversity, food systems and greenhouse gas emissions, these meetings are vitally important to the future of our planet. Read on for a brief overview of the upcoming events and their goals.
The Place of Urban Agriculture in Sustainable Future Cities: What Is Urban Agriculture, and Why Does it Matter?
If you grow tomatoes on your balcony, keep a basil plant on your windowsill or try out home hydroponics – you’re participating in urban agriculture. From pot plants to more intensive subsistence farming within urban boundaries, urban agriculture can reduce food miles from farm to table, cut carbon emissions and fight food poverty; offer avenues to more local employment and improve the health and wellbeing of city residents; and protect biodiversity, from plants to bees and birds.
In Conversation With… Vaclav Smil
Professor Vaclav Smil has made a career of digging into the numbers behind sustainable development and environmental challenges. We reached out to him to talk about the challenges of food system change, the effects of COVID-19 on meat prices, and what we as consumers can — and can’t — do to push for a more sustainable food system.
What Do We Mean When We Talk About ‘Food Systems’?
It’s a term that comes up a lot in sustainability discourse – we talk about the sustainability of food systems or about the pressure they put on planetary boundaries. But what exactly are ‘food systems’?
What Does ‘Plant-Based’ Really Mean?
‘Plant-based’ has become something of a buzzword in the last few years, spotted more often than not next to a photo of a buddha bowl or a spirulina smoothie on Instagram. Going by the hashtag, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a cutesy synonym for ‘vegan’. Read on for more on this nebulous term.