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Valuing Food

Vision Paper | 2022 | 6 pages


© Reetta Pasanen / WWF SUMMARY The impact of food systems can be felt in our daily lives - they are an essential pillar of our societies and economies, but at the same time massively contributing to biodiversity loss and climate change. The way we produce and consume food is not only unsustainable, but also detrimental to our own health. Currently, our food systems are responsible for 34% of global CO2 emissions1 and for the unhealthy 2 diets behind the deaths of 1 in 5 Europeans . To tackle this, the European Commission placed the Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system at the heart of the European Green Deal, and announced a flagship EU legislative framework for sustainable food systems for late 2023. This new EU law will aim to integrate sustainability into all food-related policies, while addressing the inextricable links between healthy people, healthy societies and a healthy planet. WWF welcomes the Commission’s commitment to rethink and transform our food systems, and believes that to make them truly sustainable, this new law must include the following elements: 1. Set mandatory 2050 targets: Establish a 2050 vision for sustainable food systems to provide a clear direction and ensure coherence among food- related policies. This must include intermediate and final binding targets that apply to the entire food system, from production to consumption, as well as a comprehensive evaluation mechanism to monitor progress. 2. Shift consumption: Support the adoption of healthy and sustainable diets and the protein transition3. This must entail using all policy tools to tackle key aspects of the food system, such as food characteristics (i.e. appearance, nutritional content), length of supply chains, public procurement, advertising and promotion, dietary guidelines, retail and other food services. 3. Lower prices of sustainable food: Strive to make healthy and sustainable diets the cheapest option for consumers. By adopting policy measures that are informed by the true cost of food, and which take into account environmental and social impacts while preventing unfair competition, this will also foster more sustainable production. 4. National action plans and sustainability rules for business: Create new obligations for large food businesses - so they improve the sustainability of the food supply chain - and require national governments to complement EU action through national food plans. This will ensure that these actors are accountable with transparent and EU-standardised reporting requirements. 5. Improve food systems governance: Renew the governance of EU food policies, including by creating a scientific advisory board and a platform for locally-led initiatives for sustainable food systems. Making it more inclusive and science-based will ensure fairness and adaptive management capacity during the transition. 1 Crippa, M., Solazzo, E., Guizzardi, D. et al. Food systems are responsible for a third of global anthropogenic GHG emissions. Nat Food 2, 198–209 (2021). 2 European Commission. 2022. Factsheet: From farm to fork: Our food, our health, our planet, our future. 3 Protein transition in diets consists of eating considerably less animal protein and more plant-based and alternative sources of protein. VALUING FOOD - FOR A GAME-CHANGING EU LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEMS 3

INTRODUCTION WWF’S VISION FOR THE SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEM LAW CONCRETE STEPS TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEMS ARE WHAT IS A SUSTAINABLE The new legislative framework for sustainable food systems is an exceptional WHY IS A FRAMEWORK opportunity for the European Commission to make current and future EU food- URGENTLY NEEDED FOOD SYSTEM? related policies play a stronger role in making European food systems sustainable. LAW FOR A SUSTAINABLE To achieve this goal, WWF considers that the new law should take the following The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us all of the importance of a socially just While there is no settled universally steps: FOOD SYSTEM NEEDED IN and resilient food system, and of how the health of people, animals and the planet agreed definition, the working THE EU? are closely interlinked. The global humanitarian catastrophe created by the war definition proposed by the Science in Ukraine, and which is partly caused by shortages of food, feed and fertiliser Advice for Policy by European 1. SET MANDATORY 2050 TARGETS As presented in the Farm to Fork supplies, has exposed some of the weaknesses of the global agri-food system. It has Academies (SAPE) in 2020, and used by Strategy, one of the main objectives also shed light on the EU’s dependence on imported fossil fuels and agricultural the European Commission, underlines of this legislative framework is to commodities.. the multiple dimensions and The new law should establish a 2050 vision for sustainable food promote policy coherence at EU complexity of food systems: systems, setting a clear long-term direction for European food systems and with and national levels, mainstream The EU imports more calories and proteins than it exports4, and is therefore not a focus on human health, environmental protection and social equity. in the strongest position to cover any supply gap in the international markets. In “A sustainable food system for the EU sustainability in all food-related 6 policies and strengthen the resilience other words, the EU is eating the world, but not feeding it. Despite being a major is one that provides and promotes The vision should be complemented with a first series of SMART targets to be of food systems. trader of agri-food and seafood, EU food systems are mainly designed to produce safe, nutritious and healthy food of low achieved 10 years after the adoption of the law (see Annex for details) and high added-value products, including many animal source foods. Although this environmental impact for all current with a comprehensive “Sustainable Food Systems Dashboard”, gathering EU- This is largely in agreement with the has a positive impact on the EU economy, the food we produce and consume has and future EU citizens in a manner that level and national data to robustly monitor progress towards the vision and targets assessment of food-related legislative low nutritional value. Supporting healthier planet-based diets and addressing the itself also protects and restores the pursued. interventions recently published bt wasteful consumption of feed and food are ultimately crucial steps that the EU natural environment and its ecosystem the FAO, where they suggest that has to take to lower the local and global impacts of its food system. This will also services, is robust and resilient, To make rapid progress, all complementary policy action (including the “the purpose of a framework law give the EU the opportunity to make a greater contribution to food security and economically dynamic, just and fair, and revision of existing laws and new legislation) should be enacted soon after the is to integrate transformative food resilience.5 socially acceptable and inclusive. It does adoption of the Sustainable Food System Law and by 2030 at the latest. systems’ perspective across different so without compromising the availability Robust regulation and policy coherence must guide and facilitate a just transition regulatory areas. establishing cross- Halfway between the adoption of the United Nations 2030 Agenda and the deadline of nutritious and healthy food for people for producers and other economic actors. cutting principles and mechanisms for for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, progress towards many food- living outside the EU, nor impairing their institutional coordination. It generally related targets is too slow and requires a renewed political impetus. The upcoming natural environment.” does not enter into detailed technical legislative framework for sustainable food systems can make a major contribution Source: SAPEA content, as this is left for the sectoral to this global and European agenda. It must embrace the urgent need for food laws that will have to implement and systems transformation and help create the right EU policy environment to enforce the orientations set in the achieve it. framework”. 7 Source: FAO © Shutterstock 10 2050 YEARS LATER vision for sustainable 5 food systems realised YEARS LATER First series of quantitative New obligations fully targets achieved phased in All complementary YEAR 0 policy action enacted Adoption of the EU SFS law 4 WWF. 2022. Europe eats the world. 6 SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. 5 SAPEA, Science Advice for Policy by European Academies. 2020. A sustainable food system for the European Union. 7 FAO. 2021. Transforming agri-food systems: legislative interventions for improved nutrition and sustainability. VALUING FOOD - FOR A GAME-CHANGING EU LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEMS 5

2. SHIFT CONSUMPTION 3. LOWER PRICES OF SUSTAINABLE FOOD 4. NATIONAL ACTION PLANS AND SUSTAINABILITY 5. IMPROVE FOOD SYSTEMS GOVERNANCE RULES FOR LARGE BUSINESS The new law should act decisively on food The new law should strive to make healthy and The new law should renew the governance of consumption, creating environments that foster dietary sustainable diets the cheapest option for consumers, The new law should create new obligations for EU food policies and their implementation, to changes, which not only support nature-positive food as lower prices will provide the right signal and help drive national governments and large food businesses, ensure a more inclusive, participatory and science-based production but also improve human health. change in production and consumption. which should be commensurate with their power and transformation of food systems. responsibility to lead food system transformation. A reliable, transparent and comprehensive assessment of Considering that the rules that govern markets hardly The law should establish a European Scientific the sustainability of food products could be instrumental consider health, social and environmental externalities, As many of the areas of EU action relevant for food are under Advisory Board on Sustainable Food Systems in this endeavour, but this process could still take several policy interventions - informed by the true costs shared competence, the law should require additional to ensure science-based evaluation and feedback on years. Therefore, parallel action should be initiated of food - are necessary. Reducing taxes on certain food coordinated action from Member States, which could the transition path. The board should ensure a diverse immediately to favour food options such as plant- categories and reorienting subsidies and public investment be set out in national action plans with a clear mandate composition of scientists with strong social and based, organic and fairtrade foods, already taking a solid to increase the availability of food produced at higher and accountability mechanisms. Such plans should include environmental expertise. The European Environment Agency step towards the protein transition and more sustainable socio-environmental standards are just two of the actions areas such as food taxation, dietary advice and public should be mandated to gather data from Member States and consumption. that could help achieve this objective. To prevent unfair procurement, which are typically within the remit of provide sound independent information on all environmental competition, this should be complemented by restrictions on (sub-)national governments and are crucial in achieving the aspects of food systems. Shifting consumption at the necessary pace and scale importing or placing products on the European market that common sustainability goals. requires that the contexts in which food choices are made do not meet minimum mandatory requirements in In order to involve food system actors from the ground, become more conducive to healthy sustainable diets. terms of sustainability. New sustainability rules for large food businesses, exchange best practice and inform policy-making, the This law should not rely on food labelling and on the limited such as major manufacturers, traders and retailers, should Scientific Advisory Board should be complemented by an agency of informed consumers to make better choices and Food businesses also have a direct responsibility, be phased in progressively in the first five years of EU platform of locally-led initiatives for sustainable drive demand for sustainable food. This legislative framework as they may seek greater margins on sustainability-certified application of the new law, alongside incentives for SMEs food systems. The platform should address power 8 should adopt a wide-reaching food environments products or try to attract consumers with promotions that to follow suit. Monitoring and transparent reporting on key imbalances and prioritise the participation of those who approach: it should use all policy levers to also tackle artificially lower the prices of less healthy food options. Such aspects of the socio-environmental performance of food are engaged in food councils and similar initiatives, and aspects such as food characteristics (i.e. appearance, actions need to be prevented, including through businesses, and remunerating their domestic or international in grassroots initiatives and enterprises, but have less nutritional content), length of supply chains, public regulation where needed, and make business practices on supply chains for lowering their impacts, should become a agency and voice in EU fora, such as socio-economically procurement, advertising and promotion, dietary guidelines, food pricing align with health and sustainability goals. basic obligation under the law, alongside requirements to marginalised communities, small-scale producers, and young retail and other food services. improve their sustainability performance over time. citizens. © Michel Gunther / WWF 9 Source: EU Food Policy Coalition 8 Food environments can be defined as “the physical, economic, political and socio-cultural context in which consumers engage with the food system to make their decisions about acquiring, preparing and consuming food”. High Level Panel of Experts. 2017. Nutrition and food systems. A report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security, Rome. 9 EU Food Policy Coalition, 2021. Food Environments & EU Food Policy - Discovering the role of food environments for sustainable food systems. VALUING FOOD - FOR A GAME-CHANGING EU LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEMS 7

ANNEX - SMART TARGETS THAT THE EU Components of Food System Transition SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEM LAW COULD 01 Preserve natural capital and enable restoration INCLUDE to ensure healthy and resilient ecosystems 02 Ensure healthy, sustainable and resilient food production 10 09 03 Transform the food industry and distribution in 03 the form of shared value chains For WWF’s vision of EU Sustainable Food Systems to be realised, progress needs to be made on 04 Ensure healthy, sustainable and affordable 05 07 consumption patterns all components of a holistic food system transition. To provide clear guidance and predictability to food system actors, SMART targets should be set out in this new EU law, with governance 08 05 Stop food loss and waste along the food chain mechanisms to ensure the achievement of the first set of intermediate targets 10 years after the adoption of the law at the latest. See below for some examples of such targets: 04 06 Strengthen the information, training, 06 knowledge and support Components of a holistic food WWF examples of targets to be set up, with indicative values to be achieved 07 Redirect financial flows system transition 10 years after the adoption of the legislative proposal at the latest. 08 Reinforce regulation and its compliance 1. Preserve natural capital 1 Pollinator populations & Grassland Butterfly Index at satisfactory levels or with 01 02 increasing trends in all Member States. 09 Renew social and economic relations 2. Sustainable and resilient 2 Annual catches in 100% of fish stocks supplying EU markets are at their 10 Ensure good governance of food systems food production maximum sustainable yield level or below. 10 Source: WWF-Spain, the 10 elements of the food systems transition 3. Transforming the food industry 3 At least 50% of the food industry has established protocols that fairly and distribution remunerate producers in their supply chain for lowering their climate & The ten components presented in the table and figure above throughout the food system. The development of the proposal environmental impacts and for nature-positive practice. are part of a proposal developed by WWF-Spain for a food has revealed that there is frequently a lack of baselines for system transition scorecard. Intended as a monitoring and setting appropriate targets, and a need to improve data 4. Healthy, sustainable and 4 Protein in the average European diet is 40% animal-based and 60% plant- evaluation tool, the scorecard should be further developed collection and data interpretation systems, as well as the affordable food consumption based. by public authorities to overcome the lack of a systemic coordination between existing databases to better measure vision, facilitate cross-sector coordination and drive change and manage the achievement of results. 5 All EU Member States have updated their national strategies on food loss and 5. Slash food loss and waste waste to also measure and address fish bycatch/discards and farm-level food waste. 6. Strengthen information, training 6 Public funding for the Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems is and knowledge increased to 2% of the CAP and EMFF budgets, and at least half of it is ring- fenced for climate and environmental action. 7. Redirect financial flows 7 Value added taxes on organic fresh fruit and vegetables in all EU countries have been reduced to their lowest possible level. 8. Reinforce regulation and 8 All use of water in agriculture and aquaculture is legal and contributes to the compliance achievement of the objectives of the Water Framework Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. 9. Renew social and economic 9 All food placed in the EU market has been produced / transformed in full relations respect of labour rights and offering a fair pay to vulnerable workers in the supply chain. 10 A fully functional coordination mechanism between the EU and national and 10. Ensure good governance. subnational governments has been set up to act consistently for food systems transformation. 10 WWF-España. Alimentando el cambio, (upcoming report). VALUING FOOD - FOR A GAME-CHANGING EU LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEMS 9

WWF’S MISSION IS TO STOP THE DEGRADATION OF THE PLANET’S NATURAL ENVIRONMENT AND TO BUILD A FUTURE IN WHICH HUMANS LIVE IN HARMONY WITH NATURE For more information: Giulia Riedo Agriculture & Sustainable Food Policy Officer WWF European Policy Office [email protected] © Shutterstock © 2022 Paper 100% recycled © 1986 Panda symbol WWF – World Wide Fund for Nature (Formerly World Wildlife Fund) ® “WWF” is a WWF Registered Trademark. WWF European Policy Office, 123 rue du Commerce, 1000 Brussels. For contact details and further information, please visit our website at