Why Food Systems Need To Change

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An interview with UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) food systems expert James Lomax.

Tell us about your professional background and interests.

Before joining UNEP, I worked in commercial food production and farming in both Europe and East Africa. The underlying ethos of this work was sustainability within a commercial setting. We had outgrower groups supplying fresh produce for the market. Since joining UNEP, I have seen that while sustainable farming and food production are a fundamental element of a sustainable food future, this is only part of the picture. So, my interest has been in looking at food and agriculture systems as a whole.

Over 820 million people are undernourished. What can we do to improve this situation?

Essentially current food systems are failing us in terms of livelihoods, human health and the environment. We have to look beyond the idea that more food in the world and greater productivity will solve our problems. Local and national food systems need to be strengthened to adapt to the climate crisis and become better equipped to provide diverse diets for consumers in food-insecure communities. Diversity in diets can help farmers diversify their risk, provide markets for food crops, break their dependency on commodity crops, and increase biodiversity and resilience.

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