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Policy Briefs

Food Systems and Food Security: Connecting the Dots for Achieving Sufficiency of Healthy and Sustainable Foods

Task Force: Energy, Climate and Sustainable Development
Authors: Syed Munir Khasru
Co-Authors: Mauro Brero, Maranatha Bernard Ferryal, Tracy Mitchell, Fatima Hatchem
Team, FAO, Italy: Laras Wuri Dianningrum, Melissa Vargas Araya, Cristina Álvarez
United States: Arash Ghale, Bharat Sharma Acharya, Kristie Wendelberger
Pubblication Date: May 2024


The policy brief tackles the formidable challenge of global food and nutrition security, exacerbated by a surging global population, climate change, and geopolitical unrest, highlighting the urgent need for sustainable solutions as the world edges closer to a population of 10 billion. With over 258 million people across 58 countries facing acute food insecurity, a significant increase from 193 million in 2021 (FSIN and Global Network Against Food Crises 2023: 17), and a double burden of malnutrition affecting over 200 million children under five with undernutrition and over 137 million school-age children with overweight and obesity (UNICEF et al. 2023), the brief proposes the ‘Smart Food’ concept as a viable pathway. This approach harmonizes nutritional needs, environmental stewardship, and economic feasibility to forge resilient, sustainable food systems capable of supporting the burgeoning global populace. Central to the brief is a multi-dimensional analysis spanning economic, social, and environmental aspects of food security, enriched by global case studies. These include Australia’s carbon farming, Bangladesh’s climate-smart agriculture, Brazil’s sustainable livestock practices, and urban agriculture in the US, showcasing the practical application and success of Smart Food initiatives across diverse contexts.
Schools also represent an exceptionally cost-effective platform through which to deliver high impact programmes to reduce food insecurity and malnutrition, while at the same time contributing to food systems transformation and sustainable development. School food and nutrition programmes can build bridges with local, sustainable, diversified food production, bringing together communities and transforming food, education, and social protection systems. The recommendations underscore the critical role of the G7 in leading this transformation, advocating for investments in climate-resilient agriculture and innovative food production technologies. The brief envisions a G7-led international collaborative effort to transition towards sustainable and efficient food systems that not only meet the nutritional needs of the global population but also address the challenges posed by climate change.
The recommendations also include increased, smarter investment in school food and nutrition policies and programmes. By taking a holistic approach to school food and nutrition programs, especially school meal programmes, strong linkages can be created between procuring food from sustainable agriculture and farming, food and nutrition education, the school food environment and the policy and legislation spheres.
Set against the backdrop of a world grappling with climate change, malnutrition, and the need for a substantial increase in food production, the G7’s commitment, evidenced by over 14 billion US dollars allocated to combat global food insecurity, positions these nations as pivotal players in the global effort. The adoption of Smart Food systems offers a promising avenue towards reimagining global food security, leveraging the G7’s economic, technological, and diplomatic resources to spearhead a coordinated response to these pressing challenges.