Close to 100 percent of the food consumed across the world is produced and supplied by the private sector. This puts large and small businesses at the heart of the potential for great change in food systems all over the world, and that’s why 25 leading global companies have joined together to accelerate transformational change in our global food systems. Together, they have launched FReSH- the Food Reform for Sustainability and Health program, under the leadership of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the EAT Foundation. FReSH is also designed to achieve healthy, enjoyable diets for all that are produced responsibly within planetary boundaries.
The report of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission shows that the private sector has a clear role to play to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable, available and aspirational. The market shift will create big opportunities for early adopters in business. Therefore, to help achieve this ambitious goal, FReSH has brought business and science to work together. The initiative draws on knowledge and efforts from premier research institutions and is working with the business community to develop successful, high-impact solutions. The program is open for more companies to participate.
The Business & Sustainable Development Commission has also called for business leaders to take up the food systems challenges ahead of us. Meeting these challenges sustainably could unlock 14 business opportunities worth US$2.3 trillion annually by 2030, generating almost 80 million jobs. FReSH provides direct answers to these calls with an action agenda for concrete, meaningful and comprehensive measures. Additionally, the program will support the development of a Sustainable Development Goals sector roadmap.
The current global food and agriculture system is at a critical juncture as growth rates in yields decline below continued growth in population, and as pressures on natural capital on both land and in the oceans continues to intensify.
Although today many people are eating better, there are still over 800 million people who are undernourished and 165 million children who suffer from stunting. Plus, paradoxically, in some parts of the world there is a growing obesity epidemic. In rural economies, over 1.5 billion smallholder farmers are still living at or below the poverty line. While the competing demands for land – for food, feed, fuel and forestry product are causing a huge pressure on forests and other natural habitats. All this is contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and the current wave of species extinction.
Significantly, this timely launch of FReSH comes when the UK Government has released a report this month about the potential dangers of global warming to Britain – including the ‘significant risk’ to supplies of food. The Government here recognises that climate change “will present significant risks to the availability and supply of food in the UK”, partly because of extreme weather in some of the world’s main food-growing regions. Therefore, what we eat and how we produce it drives some of our greatest health and environmental challenges. Getting it right on food is our greatest opportunity to improve the health of people and planet.
Photo Credit: wbcsd