The transformation of the global food system is urgently needed as more than 3 billion people are undernourished (including people who are undernourished and overnourished), and food production is exceeding planetary boundaries – causing climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution due to over-application of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers and unsustainable changes in water and land use.
Human diets inextricably link health and environmental sustainability and have the potential to nurture both. However, current diets are pushing the Earth beyond its planetary limits, causing health problems. This puts people and the planet at risk. Providing healthy diets from sustainable food systems is an immediate challenge as the population continues to grow – projected to reach 10 billion people by 2050 – and get richer (with the expectation of higher food consumption of animal origin).
To meet this challenge, dietary changes must be combined with improving food production and reducing food waste. Unprecedented global collaboration and commitment will be needed, along with immediate changes such as the redirection of agriculture to produce crops rich in varied nutrients and greater governance of land and ocean use.
The foods we eat and how we produce them determine the health of people and the planet. Compared to current diets, global adoption of the new recommendations by 2050 will require global consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar to decrease by more than 50%, while consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables and vegetables is expected to double. The world’s diets must change drastically. More than 800 million people have insufficient food, while many more consume an unhealthy diet that contributes to premature death and illness.
To be healthy, diets must have adequate caloric intake and consist of a variety of plant foods, low amounts of animal foods, unsaturated rather than saturated fats, and few refined grains, highly processed foods and added sugars. would increase the intake of essential micronutrients (such as iron, zinc, folate and vitamin A, as well as calcium in low-income countries), except for vitamin B12, where supplementation or fortification may be necessary in some circumstances.
Since the mid-1950s, the pace and scale of environmental change has grown exponentially. Food production is the biggest source of environmental degradation. To be sustainable, food production must take place within planetary boundaries related to food for climate change, loss of biodiversity, land and water use, as well as nitrogen and phosphorus cycles. However, production must also be sustainably intensified to meet the growing demand for food from the global population.
Humanity now poses a threat to the stability of the planet. The sustainability of the food system must therefore be defined from a planetary perspective. Five fundamental environmental processes regulate the state of the planet. The definition of sustainable food production requires that we do not use any additional land resources, safeguard existing biodiversity, reduce the use of water for consumption and manage water responsibly, substantially reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, produce zero emissions. carbon dioxide and no longer cause an increase in methane and nitrous oxide emissions. There is no magic bullet to combat harmful food production, but by defining and quantifying a safe operating space for food systems, diets can be identified that will nurture human health and support environmental sustainability.