The world’s food production systems are broken. What will it take to fix them?
Our food systems are under enormous strain. As the climate crisis deepens – as highlighted by the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – extreme weather events are growing in frequency and severity, with droughts, floods and storms devastating crops, disrupting water supplies and taking a high toll on agricultural production. These stresses have also been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and international conflicts, such as the invasion of Ukraine.
In a vicious cycle, current food systems – which rely heavily on industrial agriculture and fossil fuel extraction – are contributing to many of the very crises that make them vulnerable. Today, food systems are responsible for almost one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Agriculture alone uses 70% of the world’s freshwater and is the single greatest driver of habitat and biodiversity loss. The plummeting diversity of pollinators and natural pest control species, as well as worsening soil health, threatens the ecological foundations of farming.
Food systems are also failing workers. One in four people globally earn their living from farming in one way or the other. And yet for many, their livelihoods are defined by low pay, poor job security, no social protection and often dangerous working conditions….