91 per cent of people don’t realize our food system is the greatest threat to nature | WWF

91 per cent of people don’t realize our food system is the greatest threat to nature

Posted on 16 October 2018    
African yellow beans
© Simon Rawles
We all need to eat - and we all need to think about food differently. The food system is both the single biggest user of natural resources and the single biggest greenhouse gas emitter. It uses 34 per cent of our land and 69 per cent of our freshwater, and is the main cause of deforestation and other habitat loss, yet one third of all the food produced is never consumed. The food system is responsible for around a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, one third of which come from wasted food alone. The food system is the biggest threat to nature, but on World Food Day, we can reveal that 91 per cent of people don’t realize this.
 
We all depend on our planet for what we eat, but there’s worryingly low awareness of the fact exactly how we produce, eat and waste food is damaging nature and will make it harder to produce food in the future. In this context,  the disconnect among youths is of particular concern – 11 per cent of 18-24 year olds do not consider the food system to pose any threat at all to nature, while a total of 40 per cent consider its threat to be less than significant. Only people aged over 55 have a greater lack of awareness of the issue. We would hope to see younger generations becoming more, rather than less, aware of the problem.
 
The survey of 11,000 people was carried out in Australia, Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Netherlands, South Africa, UK and US. These countries have been identified both as having their food security threatened by damages to nature and as contributing significantly to these damages through high-impact food production, consumption or waste.
 
Clearly, more needs to be done – directly to improve the sustainability of the food system but also to increase public awareness of the issue and urgency to act.
 
“The good news is we can make the food system work for people and nature. If food is produced more sustainably, distributed fairly and consumed more responsibly, we can feed everyone without destroying more forests, rivers and oceans. We need to increase people’s awareness of where food comes from, and change our behaviours to ensure the proper functioning of our food system,” said João Campari, WWF Food Practice Leader.
 
“There is a lot of great work already being done to improve the food system, but we must work across sectors at greater scale and with greater urgency. By working together to realise an evolved food system – Food 2.0 - we all have the power to bring food to the top of the conservation agenda and help protect our global food security,” continued Campari.
 
So what are we doing? We’re taking a full system approach, focusing on three key areas: Sustainable Food Production, Sustainable Diets and Food Loss & Waste. We are building on our experience of tackling global issues while implementing programmes on the ground. By working with partners we can deliver scalable and pragmatic solutions, making a real difference to people and our planet.
 
To work towards Food 2.0, WWF already has close to 100 food-related programmes running across the world, in partnerships with governments, food producers, businesses and other non-governmental organisations, and will be introducing several global programmes in the coming months.
 
For more information: www.panda.org/food
African yellow beans
© Simon Rawles Enlarge

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