Europe North to South: Food system challenges and solutions

Today we are joined by colleagues and friends from across Europe in the centre of Brussels to discuss one of the most pressing issues of our time: food systems.

From production to consumption, animal welfare to human health, climate change to human rights, our food systems today are at the root of a number of major challenges and threats to both our environment and society.

Accounting for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, this vast constellation of industries and sectors is also a leading driver of plummeting biodiversity.

On top of this, it accounts for catastrophic levels of food waste – at a time when, even while we produce more than enough food to feed us all, unequal access means many across Europe are struggling to put food on the table.

These innumerable negative impacts, affecting every corner of our lives and Europe’s ecosystems, are driven by economic indecisions at the heart of European food production. The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, driven in large part by a self-defeating ideology of overproduction and profit-maximisation, is one of the root causes of the EU’s food system crisis.

The other major problem relates to policy coherence (or a notable lack thereof) in how our food systems are governed.

Today, our members and co-organisers of our event, publish their brand new reports outlining a series of challenges, pitfalls in Europe’s current food systems. They also outline how a holistic ‘food systems approach’ that addresses the entire food supply chain can bring about the changes we need: water and food security, farm resilience, ecological safeguards, and protected health and livelihoods.

Kajsa Pira, Policy Officer for Agriculture, AirClim says: 

“Our report ‘Food for thought’ shows a diversity of opportunities for policy makers to steer our food system in a more sustainable direction, but to ensure coherence, we urgently need an overall framework in the form of an EU law for sustainable food systems.”

Elena Alter, Coordinator of the campaign ‘The true price of food’, Ecologistas en Acción, comments:

“Today’s agro-industrial model in the southern enclaves in Spain is based on excessive external inputs and exploitation of water resources, geared heavily towards exports rather than local food sovereignty. People and the environment are already paying a heavy price for cheap Spanish fruit and vegetables.”

Isabel Paliotta, Policy Officer for Sustainable Food Systems, European Environmental Bureau, notes:

“While the Commission continues to water down and roll back EU environmental ambitions for our agri-food system, it’s important we remind ourselves that this is not the way to go.

The damage our current agri-food system does to our ecosystems and communities is increasingly destructive – as shown by the many cases we heard from today. The next Commission must challenge the pushback of powerful vested interests to protect public health and long-term food security, learning from positive examples on the ground and initiating a meaningful transition to sustainable food systems, for all of us.”



Notes to editors:

Please see the relevant reports below for reference:

Food for thought: Baltic ideas for sustainable food policyAirClim

The true price of food: The hidden side of agroindustry on the Iberian PeninsulaEcologistas en Acción

Hungry for Change: An EU Sustainable Food Systems Law for People and NatureEuropean Environmental Bureau

Sustainable Food Systems Law: Policy Recommendations for a Meaningful TransitionEU Food Policy Coalition

Europe North to South: Food system challenges and solutions
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