Climate, biodiversity, human health are the most pressing global challenges all connected by one vital sector of the economy: Food. More than a third of the world’s land is currently dedicated to food production. Thus, how that land is used, managed impact levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, whether plants, insects, or animals can thrive, and if people have access to a nutritious diet. While the current food system has supported a fast-growing population and fuelled economic development, productivity gains have come at a cost.
Deforestation for agricultural land as well as livestock and soil management have amounted to the food industry being responsible for almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Meanwhile, mismanagement of fertilisers has caused eutrophication of waterways and chemical pesticide use has degraded the natural resources on which the food system depends. A circular economy for food can help people and nature thrive together. Changing the current food system to one based on the principles of the circular economy is one of the most powerful things that can be done to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss; while providing healthy nutritious food for all and ensuring that food never creates waste.
The current food system does not work for everyone, and it certainly does not work for the environment either. Industrial farming has turned agriculture into a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, and is driving the extinction of species. Not only does the current food system produce food in a way that will not work in the long term, but it also wastes almost a third of it while nearly 10% of the world’s population go hungry. A circular economy for food means building the food system that actively supports and regenerates natural systems, brings production closer to where the food is eaten, and where appropriate eliminates waste, and designs healthier food products.