Food methods face a frightening triple problem requiring governments to take a extra holistic method


27/01/2021 – Food methods face the triple problem of offering meals safety and vitamin for a rising international inhabitants, and livelihoods to farmers and others working in meals provide chains around the globe, all whereas enhancing environmental sustainability.

Given the deep connections between these aims, governments can do rather more to take note of the synergies and trade-offs that exist between the completely different areas, in addition to the challenges for creating extra coherent coverage, in accordance with a brand new OECD report.

Making Better Policies for Food Systems brings collectively a long time of OECD analysis and coverage suggestions on meals methods. The report underlines the lengthy observe document offering knowledge, proof and coverage suggestions on matters starting from agricultural productiveness and commerce to weight problems, water use, rural improvement and international worth chains. It notes that these and different matters had been often thought of in isolation, relatively than as elements of wider meals methods insurance policies.

The centrality of meals methods for the Sustainable Development Goals has led the UN to convene a Food Systems Summit in September 2021. Development of a brand new “food systems approach,” able to concurrently making progress on the three dimensions of meals safety/vitamin, livelihoods and environmental sustainability, would require higher coordination between coverage makers in a spread of sectors, together with  agriculture, fisheries, atmosphere and public well being, in accordance with the OECD report.

This new method would require policymakers to take a holistic view on meals system aims, in addition to new efforts to keep away from incoherent insurance policies. In follow, this might imply that agricultural policymakers – who’ve historically focussed on agricultural manufacturing – would place a better emphasis on the attainable results of farm insurance policies on dietary and environmental outcomes. Similarly, the place environmental issues associated to agriculture have prior to now been addressed by agri-environmental insurance policies, a meals methods method opens the chance to make use of different devices, equivalent to people who promote modifications in client or enterprise behaviour.

A meals systems-based method recognises the complexity of potential synergies and trade-offs between meals safety and vitamin, livelihoods and environmental sustainability. Rising demand for some meals merchandise might profit producers in poor international locations whereas concurrently bringing destructive environmental penalties. Changes in meals costs might profit producers whereas harming poorer customers. Conditions range enormously between smallholder farmers in creating international locations, these doing intensive grazing-based farming and high-tech farmers in superior economies.

This complexity would require tailor-made and multi-dimensional insurance policies, based mostly on strong, evidence-based and inclusive coverage processes. The OECD highlights the clear have to reform agricultural and fisheries help insurance policies which can be essentially the most distorting and which create destructive environmental results. Beyond that, making higher insurance policies for meals methods would require overcoming disagreements on information, but in addition diverging pursuits and differing values amongst stakeholders, in accordance with the report.

Case research on the seed sector, the ruminant livestock sector and the processed meals sector present in-depth dialogue of how every may also help tackle the triple problem, the synergies and trade-offs that exist, in addition to the differing coverage processes which have been utilized in varied international locations.

The report focuses on three linked areas:

  • the precise efficiency of meals methods, and  the function of coverage;
  • how policymakers can design meals methods insurance policies considering the three dimensions of meals safety/vitamin, livelihoods and environmental sustainability; and
  • the frequent elements complicating efforts to design higher meals system insurance policies, and potential options.

For additional info on OECD work on meals methods go to:

Direct media queries to Lawrence Speer within the OECD Media Office (+33 1 45 24 79 70). 


Working with over 100 international locations, the OECD is a world coverage discussion board that promotes insurance policies to enhance the financial and social well-being of individuals around the globe.



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