Consultation on sustainable food: A first step towards filling the EU’s food policy vacuum? | WWF

Consultation on sustainable food: A first step towards filling the EU’s food policy vacuum?

Posted on
10 July 2013

Brussels, Belgium: WWF welcomes the launch of the EU Commission’s open consultation “Sustainability of the Food System” which asks how in a world with limited resources and rising food demand we can significantly lower our impact on natural resources. WWF recently estimated that if all humans consumed key resources including food in the same way as an average European we would need the capacity of 2.7 planets to sustain current consumption.

WWF’s LiveWell for Life project looks at diets in Europe and how they can be adapted to provide healthy and environmentally sound alternatives to policy makers and citizens. Key findings from the project will feed into the Commission’s consultation. WWF believes that problems like climate change and biodiversity loss can only be addressed if we look at all elements of human behaviour including, for the first time diets.

According to Erik Gerritsen, WWF EPO Sustainable Consumption Policy Officer:

“Research shows that we are not only putting global resources under an intolerable strain with our dietary patterns in Europe, but we are also eating and wasting too much food. Survey after survey has outlined the rise of obesity and overweight adults and children while at the same time we are throwing away roughly 30% of our food from farm to fork.”

“On average Europeans are eating too much of the wrong types of food such as sugars, fats and salt which are causing major health problems. We need to moderate our appetite for meat and highly processed food, which use significantly more water, land and energy than plant based foods. For instance, producing one kilo of beef can in turn lead to the creation of over 37 kilos of carbon dioxide. The same weight of potatoes produces only up to 0,24 Kilos of carbon dioxide. Smarter choices can be made and should be encouraged.”

“Our core philosophy is far from being against eating meat. What our project shows is that we can strike a better healthy balance between different food groups. By using our scarce resources more efficiently we can produce more food with less land, water and GHG emissions, a good thing for man and nature.”

“We hope that the findings of this consultation will feed into a coherent policy framework on healthy, sustainable food consumption, something that the EU has been reluctant to tackle in the past. While recently proposed targets and measures to reduce food waste are an essential first step, we need to gradually encourage an improvement in everybody’s diet which will help public health and the planets. “

Editor’s note

Under its Europe 2020 growth strategy, the European Commission presented in 2011 a Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe that ‘By 2050, the EU's economy has grown in a way that respects resource constraints and planetary boundaries, thus contributing to global economic transformation.’ In the Roadmap, the European food sector is identified as a priority sector to increase its efficiency, and a 20% resource reduction target is proposed for 2020. Reducing food waste and improving diets in line with dietary guidelines are considered as two key action points.

WWF’s has a twin challenge of protecting the world’s biodiversity in a select number of priority places, and to reduce humanity’s ecological footprint to reduce negative impacts worldwide. Last year’s Living Planet Report showed that humanity has an ecological footprint of 1,5 planets – and Europe is well above the global average. Wiser consumption choices are key European contribution to sustainable development globally, and promoting healthy food consumption patterns are an important part of it.

The LiveWell for LIFE project was launched in 2011, with support of key stakeholders across the EU’s food supply chain. It explored what healthy and sustainable diets could look like in France, Spain and Sweden. This year the social and economic barriers and opportunities for these diets were identified in a report showing the main challenges for people, business and governments alike. The public consultation on sustainable food will test the European Commission’s proposals to address these challenges.

WWF’s LiveWell for Life project is funded under the European Commission’s LIFE+ Programme with Friends of Europe as an official partner.

Important Links

To the European Commission Open Consultation, Sustainability of the Food System:

To the LiveWell for Life website:

For further information:

Philippe Carr
WWF European Policy Office
Media & Communications
Tel: +32 476 25 68 79

Source of the article

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