Future Food Systems:

For people, our planet, and prosperity

This report has profound implications for countless millions who endure inadequate diets, and for the world’s environmental systems on which every person and every nation depends.


Preface and Foreword

Today, roughly three billion people are unable to afford even the cheapest, locally available, healthy diets.

This represents a crisis, not just in terms of health, but also for the mental and physical development of children, and the prosperity of families and growth of countries.

Food systems are also driving the degradation of the natural environment – soil, water and air quality, biodiversity loss and climate change – and dangerously undermining our future well-being.

Executive Summary

Today’s food systems are no longer fit for purpose.

Decision makers, particularly governments in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and their development partners, need to take urgent action to change the ways in which food systems are currently managed, governed, and used.


Chapter 1 Introduction

Ensuring sustainable, healthy diets should be a worldwide priority.

Yet we are further from achieving that goal than ever before. Instead, multiple crises are unfolding.

It is a stark reality that roughly 690 million people are chronically undernourished (a number that may rise considerably during 2020 due to the wide-reaching effects of the Coronavirus pandemic), and more than 2 billion people are overweight or obese.

Part I: Why a food system transformation is critical

Chapter 2 Diets and human health: an accelerating crisis

We are in a deepening global nutrition crisis. Malnutrition in all its forms has become one of the most serious threats to global health.

Today, sub-optimal diets are estimated to be responsible for 20% of premature (disease-mediated) mortality worldwide and 20% of all disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).


Chapter 3 Diets and the planet: an unsustainable relationship

Humanity is facing an unparalleled crisis relating to the planet’s health.

The climate crisis, soil degradation, rising ocean levels, biodiversity loss, pollution of air, water and land, and depletion of freshwater resources all pose risks to, and are partly driven by, the way food systems work.

Part II: Ways forward: Transition steps

Chapter 4 Ensuring sufficient availability of sustainably produced, nutrient-rich food

A pre-requisite for universal access to sustainable, healthy diets is the sufficient availability of appropriate foods.

Today, agriculture and related food policies are not supporting healthy diets at the most fundamental level.

This chapter lays out principles for action which are essential both globally and in LMICs to achieve the goals of a sufficient supply of food that is both nutrient-rich and sustainably produced.


Chapter 5 Making sustainable, healthy diets accessible to all: markets, trade and protecting the foods already produced

Year-round access to sustainable, healthy diets means all consumers being able to obtain the nutrient-rich foods needed to maintain an active healthy life.

This chapter describes the range of policy levers and actions that are needed to protect nutrients as they move across the food system, including investments in trade, infrastructure and employment, and measures to significantly cut food loss and waste.

Chapter 6 Making sustainable, healthy diets affordable to all

Nutrient-rich products are today more expensive (on average) to produce, and therefore to purchase, compared to other foods such as staples.

This chapter identifies four critical actions that must be implemented in concert to ensure the affordability of sustainable, healthy diets for all in the future.


Chapter 7 Encouraging demand: making sustainable, healthy diets desirable

Each of the actions proposed in this report will have limited effect if people choose diets that do not promote health and/or cannot be pursued sustainably.

This chapter explores some of the most important influencers of choice beyond price, and how various actions by the public and private sectors could do more to enable people to make informed dietary choices in line with health and sustainability goals.

Part III: How to manage the transition

Chapter 8 Managing the transition

There is growing acceptance that food systems need to be fundamentally transformed but the steps necessary for a successful transition are stalling.

The transition of food systems will be complex and difficult, with inevitable winners and losers. Policymakers need to navigate the difficult trade-offs and to assess the costs of the transition from production through to retail.


Chapter 9 Transitioning food systems to achieve ambitious new goals

The Global Panel urges all nations, including low- and middle-income countries and their development partners, to take urgent action to change the ways in which food systems are currently managed, governed, and used.

Chapter 9 provides a set of specific recommendations targeted to governments and donors, commercial food companies, civil society and citizens to help realise the goal of sustainable, healthy diets for all.

It also outlines a number of important first steps which are needed for initiating the process of policy and investment transition.