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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds Well, you know, how to make our food system sustainable is a very good question and then how to work together is equally a very good question, and again, a complex question. So I think to transform to sustainable food systems will require regulatory measures from above. I think we need to have science-based policies to really enable food systems to achieve particularly three goals as the most important immediate goals, which is to decarbonise the food system– so zero fossil fuels. And that will require policy decisions from above. A carbon tax, regulatory measures to keep within emission schemes that we have agreed upon in Paris. The second is to halt biodiversity loss. No more expansion agriculture– these must be laws.

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 seconds So no more deforestation in the Amazon. No more expansionary culture in Angola. We simply need to halt expansionary culture. And the third part is investment. We need to invest in research and development for innovations to basically create a sustainable food revolution in the world. Remember, we need to increase food production with almost 50% to feed a world population of nine, ten billion people who are more wealthy and therefore also have the right to more adequate diets. So innovation, regulation are two kind of equally important parts of that transition. And then, one thing that we tend to forget is that you and I now are talking about food, but remember that we have for 20 years essentially focused on climate.

Skip to 1 minute and 50 seconds And that is good, because today climate is at the top of the agenda. All countries now agree we’re going to decarbonise. But we haven’t had this global scale agenda on food. Food is lagging 20 years behind, even though food is so important for economy, for climate, and for sustainability. So we also now need to ramp up the attention on food. Food needs to be a top, top agenda item in the world, not only for sustainability, but also for health. And I think this is something that we can help each other with and that everyone needs to support, which takes me to that collaboration side, which is that for more sustainable food in the future, we need global scale collaboration.

Skip to 2 minutes and 31 seconds We live in a globalised world. We have food trade across all continents. A country like Sweden, it’s quite shocking actually. The food self-sufficiency in a modern country like this is less than 40%. More than 60% of the food is imported. So of course, we live in this entangled global system which means that there’s no sustainable food systems in the future unless we get food to be central in the World Trade Organisation, to be central in the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) agreement right now on trade between the EU and the US, we need to really integrate food as a top line item on all these international collaborative agreements.

Getting to sustainability

In this video, Prof. Johan Rockström, of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, presents his perspective on how to achieve a sustainable food system.

He lists his “Big Three” goals:

  • Decarbonize the food system;
  • Halt biodiversity loss and the expansion of agricultural land;
  • Invest in research and development to spark a food revolution.
  • He highlights something extremely significant: timing. How long do these types of transitions take? Just how urgent is urgent? The science on these questions is, understandably, still inconclusive. But do we have time to wait until we have all the answers? How much damage is being done as the world experiences year after year of business as usual?

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    This video is from the free online course:

    Food and Our Future: Sustainable Food Systems in Southeast Asia

    Stockholm Environment Institute