The International Resource Panel (which I have been a member of since 2007) has just released a new report called Food Systems and Natural Resources. Launched last week in Nairobi, one of the co-lead authors, Maarten Hajer, suggested that a tax on meat might be worth considering if we want to ensure food security for all while sustaining ecosystems that make food production possible. The fact that this report is focused on Food Systems and not Food Security is significant: it signals that the problem is not about food production, but rather about the highly problematic way that the global food system is structured and organized. The following is from the abstract of the report:
“Food systems are at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a historic global
commitment to eradicate poverty and hunger while ensuring healthy, prosperous and fulfilling lives.
The food we grow, produce, consume, trade, transport, store and sell is the essential connecting
thread between people, prosperity, and planet. We therefore need ‘resource-smart’ food systems.
Food systems crucially depend on natural resources: land, soil, water, terrestrial and marine
biodiversity, minerals (essential nutrients for crops and animals) and fossil fuels. The use of these
natural resources goes beyond primary food production, e.g. fresh water for processing and biomass
for packaging or cooking. If we want ensure all people have safe and nutritious food, in appropriate
amounts, these natural resources need to be managed sustainably and used efficiently, while
reducing environmental impacts.
The food sector is globally the dominant user of a number of natural resources, particularly land,
biodiversity, fresh water, nitrogen and phosphorus. Food systems, and food production in particular,
are also a major driver of a number of environmental impacts, such as the loss of biodiversity, soil
degradation, water depletion and greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, the people who directly or
indirectly manage our food systems are also the largest group of natural resource managers in the
world and could become critical agents of change in the transformation of current consumption and
Download the report here: -Food_systems_and_natural_resources-2016Food_Systems_and_Natural_Resources.pdf-1