Green Week Debate 2023: How can Europe lead the way on food security and production?
More and more people are going hungry globally. The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that 345 million people are now facing acute food insecurity, more than double the number affected in 2019.
The combined shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and spiralling food, fuel and fertiliser costs have ignited a cost of living crisis across Europe and the world.
The climate emergency is playing a role too. According to the UN, climate change is now one of the “leading causes” of global hunger, with the food crisis likely to “spiral out of control” if the world fails to take immediate action.
While the situation is most pressing in East African countries such as Somalia and Ethiopia, the impacts of climate change are being felt across the globe. In Europe, food security is being threatened by extreme weather, with the continent now in drought since 2018, according to a recent study from the Graz University of Technology in Austria.
The situation is being made more complex by the climate impacts of the food system itself, creating a feedback loop where the emissions from global food production are making climate change worse.
As the climate emergency escalates, will technology and innovation make food systems more resilient? And if innovation is the answer, who is going to pay for it?
As Europe looks to the future, what will the changing climate mean for our diets, and will consumer food choices help to steer us in a more sustainable direction?
As part of Euronews’ Green Week, we’ll be putting these key questions and more to a panel of experts during our live debate on Thursday 8th June at 3.00pm (CEST)
Meet our panel:
Edward Davey, Director of Partnerships, Food & Land Use Coalition (FOLU) & Co-Director, World Resources Institute UK
Edward Davey is the Director of Partnerships at the Food and Land Use Coalition. He is responsible for ensuring that FOLU drives real and lasting impact in international processes and institutions on the food systems agenda. Edward is also Co-Director of WRI UK. He is the author of 'Given Half A Chance: Ten Ways to Save the World,' published in 2019.
Dr. Lee Ann Jackson, Head, Agro-Food Trade and Markets Division, Directorate for Trade & Agriculture, OECD
Dr. Lee Ann Jackson is the Head of the Agro-Food Trade and Markets Division in the Trade and Agriculture Directorate (TAD) at the OECD. Dr Jackson manages a team that develops evidence-based advice for governments with the aim of helping them improve the domestic and international performance of their policies for agro-food trade and markets.
She joined the OECD in 2020 after 16 years at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) where she served as the Secretary to the WTO's Committee on Agriculture in the Agriculture and Commodities Division.
Prof. Mladen Radisic, CEO, Foodscale Hub & Communication Manager, CrackSense
Prof. Mladen Radišić is CEO at Foodscale Hub, an Impact Venture Studio working to accelerate the shift towards tech-enabled innovations in the agrifood sector. He is also a university professor specialising in Business and Finance.
He has previous experience in running large-scale projects and has organised international EU-funded business accelerator programs. These projects and programs provided €15 million to more than 300 European SMEs and startups, covering sectors such as agrifood, ICT, manufacturing, logistics, health, finance, energy, and environment.
Marloes Martens, Product Manager, Human Nutrition & Health, Ynsect
Marloes Martens is Product Manager of Human Nutrition & Health at Ÿnsect. As part of her role, she also works with R&D on the development of new products, as well as with sales – she is the link between the technical departments and the sales people.
As part of her Master’s degree in Health-Food Innovation Management at the University of Maastricht, she founded Oatelli, a project aimed at improving fibre consumption in the Netherlands.
If you would like to submit a question for our panel, please fill in the form below:
Is food production causing climate change?
Food production is one of the leading causes of climate change, accounting for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Resources Institute.
Animal products currently make-up two-thirds of all agricultural emissions and use more than three-quarters of agricultural land. Food production is water intensive too, with an average of 70 per cent of the world’s freshwater used during agricultural production.
To make matters worse, roughly a third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, with the EU wasting approximately 131 kg per person in 2020 alone.
How is the EU planning to improve food security?
The EU cites the climate, a lack of resources and population growth among the factors behind its Food 2030 policy, which seeks to make European food systems more sustainable, while ensuring everyone has enough affordable and nutritious food.
With research and innovation at its heart, the policy covers everything from land and water-based production, to food processing, retail and distribution, packaging, waste and recycling, and consumption. It aligns with the EU’s flagship Green Deal vision.
Research has shown that EU citizens are hungry for change too. A 2022 WWF report found that 74 per cent of respondents believed that Europeans should eat food that is better for the environment, while 66 per cent agree that eating sustainable food is key to tackling climate change and biodiversity loss.
In order to make food systems more resilient though, the EU must combine technological innovation and regenerative farming, while increasing the diversity of its cereal crops to ensure resilient food for the future.
How can innovation make food systems more resilient?
Building innovation into the current food system is a complex undertaking, especially as the climate emergency evolves.
In the long term, the EU is looking to reduce its dependence on imports such as fertilisers and plant-based proteins for animal feed, while at the same time funding projects which provide solutions to climate issues.
One of the latest projects to receive EU funding is the Greek based initiative CrackSense. The project aims to address the problem of fruit cracking, which can happen due to an erratic water supply and leads to fruit drop and yield loss. By developing and upscaling sensing technologies, the project is able to provide real-time data on fruit conditions, which could be adapted for other crops too.
As the climate emergency escalates, can Europe ensure food security and future-proof its farms? Join us on Thursday 8th June at 3.00pm (CEST) to debate one of the most important issues of our time.