What do we mean by sustainable food systems?

Last changed: 17 March 2021

The world food system is a complex web of all elements - such as the environment, people, inputs, processes, infrastructure, institutions, etcetera - and activities related to the production, processing, distribution, trade, preparation and consumption of food, and the results of these activities, environmental and socio-economic effects. The system contains players of different sizes and types, such as primary producers, manufacturers, retailers, consumers, authorities and more.

The food system functions in and is influenced by ecological, social, cultural, political and economic contexts. The food system also connects to other "systems" such as climate systems, ecosystems, transport systems, energy systems and more.

The parts of the system are affected by, and affect, each other. Strong drivers for changes in the system are population growth, migration, urbanization and changing consumption habits.

A sustainable food system enables food security and good nutrition for all, without compromising the economic, social and environmental foundations of food security and nutrition for future generations.



HLPE. 2014. Food losses and waste in the context of sustainable food systems. A report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security. Rome. http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3901e.pdf

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