The iPES-Food report – from uniformity to diversity

In June 2016 the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems released its first thematic report, From Uniformity to Diversity: A paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems. The report advocates the shift from industrial food systems to sustainable food systems.

The failure of the industrial food system is presented starkly in the figure below, from page 9 of the report.

iPES Food industrial food systems failure

Failures of the industrial food system.

In 2015 4.7 billion suffered from inadequate nutrition, that is 6 out of every 10 people. While other global systems are complicit in this failure, collectively we have failed, given the technology we have, the education systems and the exploitation of cheap energy sources.

The report states:

Today’s food and farming systems have succeeded in supplying large volumes of foods to global markets, but are generating negative outcomes on multiple fronts: wide- spread degradation of land, water and ecosystems; high GHG emissions; biodiversity losses; persistent hunger and micro-nutrient deficiencies alongside the rapid rise of obesity and diet-related diseases; and livelihood stresses for farmers around the world.

As someone working at the local level towards sustainable food systems, it is heartening to know that at the global level awareness of the failure of orthodox systems are rising, and there are organisations uniting people from diverse nations to take action. The transformation of our food systems is a place where we can think globally and act locally. Of all of the critical systems that support our economic and social well-being, food is a catalyst for change.

The report includes excellent analysis of the eight “lock-ins” that perpetuate the industrial food system. We can erode their influence with the opportunities emerging around the planet.

  1. Policy incentives for diversication and agroecology
  2. Building joined-up ‘food policies’
  3. Integrated landscape thinking
  4. Agroecology on the global governance agenda
  5. Integrated food systems science and education
  6. Peer-to-peer action research
  7. Sustainable and Healthy Sourcing
  8. Short supply chains .

I commend the work of the iPES-FOOD panel. Enjoy their report.


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