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OSLO, Norway: A new report says current food systems destroy more value than they create with over US$10 trillion in annual human suffering and planetary harm.

A group of economists and scientists suggest a new food pathway will provide socio-economic benefits of US$5 to US$10 trillion a year.

The findings follow a four-year investigation by the Food System Economics Commission (FSEC), an independent academic commission created to assess options for comprehensive food system transformation.

“The costs of inaction to transform the broken food system will probably exceed the estimates in this assessment, given that the world continues to rapidly move along an extremely dangerous path. It is likely that we will not only breach the 1.5°C limit, but also face decades of overshoot”, notes Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and FSEC Principal. “The only way to return back to 1.5°C is to phase out fossil-fuels, keep nature intact and transform food systems from source to sink of greenhouse gases. The global food system thereby holds the future of humanity on Earth in its hand”, he continues.

The report outlines what happens under current and future pathways. By 2050, even if policymakers achieve agreed commitments, current food systems will still leave 640 million people underweight while obesity will increase 70 percent globally; food will contribute to 2.7 degrees of warming by the end of the century; food production will become increasingly vulnerable to climate change and extreme events will increase dramatically.

The FSEC estimates the current unaccounted costs on people and the planet to be US$15 trillion a year, equivalent to 12 percent of global GDP in 2020, including US$11 trillion in health costs and US$3 trillion on ecosystems and the climate.

Alternatively, it believes a ‘Food System Transformation` pathway could eradicate under-nutrition to save 174 million lives from premature death by 2050; food systems could be net carbon sinks by 2040; global warming could be less than 1.5 degrees by the end of the century when combined with low-emission energy development; an additional 1.4 billion hectares of land would be protected; the nitrogen surplus from agriculture would be halved and 400 million farm workers could enjoy sufficient income.

“The cost of achieving this transformation - estimated at the equivalent of 0.2-0.4 percent of global GDP per year - is small relative to the multi-trillion dollar benefits it could bring,” explains Hermann Lotze-Campen, FSEC Commissioner and head of the PIK Climate Resilience Research Department.

“Food systems are a uniquely powerful means of addressing global climate, nature and health emergencies at the same time while offering a better life to hundreds of millions of people,” he adds.

The FSEC brings together experts in food system transformation from the perspective of environmental sustainability, global health, nutrition, economic development, and social inclusion.

https://foodsystemeconomics.org/
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