NEWS 2024-02-16

A sustainable food system transition is part of crises prepardness

The current security situation requires improved food preparedness while the food system needs to become more sustainable and resilient. How can these questions be linked together for best results? This was discussed by researchers within the research programme Mistra Food Futures and politicians at a seminar in the Swedish Parliament hosted by members of the Parliament’s Defense Committee.

Photo: Jessica Bergh, Mistra

Mistra Food Futures works for a sustainable Swedish food system until 2045. The researcher’s main message was that improved food security and a sustainability transition in the food system need to be managed in an integrated way so that the investments strengthen each other.

“Swedish consumption of food transgresses five out of six planetary boundaries”, explains Malin Jonell. “It is important that when we plan preparedness and a sustainable shift, we also consider nutrition according to our national goals”, she continues.

Mistra Food Futures programme director Helena Hansson talked about resilience as the ability to endure, adapt and transform to withstand disruptions in the food chain. It can be about measures such as a more diversified cultivation system and animal husbandry system, other feed in animal husbandry and, on the consumer side, about new dietary patterns in line with what Sweden can produce in a sustainable way, for example more pulses and coarse vegetables, such as root vegetables and cabbage.

For members of parliament Lars Püss (M) and Mikael Karlsson (C), both members of the Defense Committee, the discussion raises questions about organic versus conventional cultivation, the responsibility of municipalities and authorities and what a modern emergency stockpile should look like. Thoughts and questions about blue food, agriculture’s electricity supply, construction on farmland and how the entire food chain can be strengthened were also discussed.

In a new policy brief, Improved food preparedness through resilience (in Swedish), Mistra Food Futures provides several recommendations for how sustainable transition within the food system and food preparedness should go hand in hand. Around twenty individual measures that can reduce agriculture’s climate footprint were investigated. Several of them can also contribute to improved preparedness, for example self-driving electric tractors, cultivation of intermediate crops and by-products for oil and fodder production.

“It is with concern we see that the focus on a sustainable transition has decreased due to an increased focus on preparedness. Treat these issues instead as linked policy areas and complement short-term solutions with long-term strategies for increased resilience. The knowledge to create sustainable preparedness exists, take advantage of it”, concluded Malin Jonell.

Text (shortened) and photo by Jessica Bergh, Mistra 

Read original text in Swedish here