WWF and Greenpeace are among the list of 22 NGOs which have sent a letter to the European Commission urging the bloc to develop a more sustainable food system.
The Commission is expected to put forward a proposal for an EU Sustainable Food Systems Framework in 2023. The topic, however, was not mentioned in President Ursula von der Leyen’s most recent State of the Union address.
As noted in the letter, von der Leyen’s speech was predominantly focused on the solidarity which EU member states must show to the people of Ukraine as Russia continues to attack the country.
Though the signatories, which also include Friends of the Earth Europe and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office, had no contest to this, the letter says: “However, we were very surprised and concerned to notice that neither food nor agriculture found much space in the vision for Europe you presented.”
The European Commission will officially adopt its work programme for 2023 in October. Acknowledging this, the letter urges von der Leyen to ensure the Framework for Sustainable Food Systems (FSFS) features prominently in the list of initiatives for next year.
“Failing to prioritise food systems would mean failing the Green Deal and a huge waste of public resources to bring it about,” reads the letter. “It would also mean failing to deliver on the mandate received from the European Parliament and Council, and therefore failing EU citizens, in particular younger and future generations.”
Currently, the EU food system relies heavily on fossil fuels and imported fertilisers and animal feed. Additionally, many of the foods which are the most accessible are of poor nutritional quality meaning those on the lowest incomes are not able to afford healthy diets.
Recent damning statistics unveiled by Feedback EU also revealed that EU member states waste more food than they import – some 153 million tonnes annually.
“The FSFS can bring long-term solutions to these complex and intertwined challenges,” the letter states, adding that the Farm to Fork strategy already set out by the EU Commission is the way to achieve it.
The Farm to Fork Strategy states that a sustainable food system must have a neutral or positive environmental impact, help mitigate climate change and reverse the loss of biodiversity. Additionally, it must ensure food security and nutrition for the public, and preserve food affordability while generating fairer economic returns for food producers.
The letter concludes that the FSFS should not be about imposing “undue burdens”, but rather setting out a vision which facilitates a transition to a “fair, healthy, just and environmentally friendly” EU food system.
Sustainable practices can be implemented at all levels of the food system, from national-scale to small foodservice businesses. To find out how you can make the transition, sign up for this Masterclass: