WWF: An Analysis of the Global Food System

A vision and roadmap towards a healthy, resilient, and sustainable global food system.

The current structure of the food system lies at the center of a nexus of global problems, from poverty to environmental degradation. To successfully move towards a sustainable and resilient food system, we must consider the systemic nature of the system’s behaviours and impacts. Working with WWF-NL, we carried out a systems analysis of the global food system, highlighting the current state, behaviours and global trends, key impacts and challenges, structural causes, and a holistic outlook for a sustainable global food system.
  • Client: WWF-Netherlands
  • Date: March 2017
The challenge

The global food system is the largest contributor to both environmental and humanitarian impacts. And as populations increase, it is poised for a necessary expansion. If we are to preserve our planet’s ecosystems and the future wellbeing of the human population, the way we produce food and deliver it to our tables is in need of a dramatic transformation. 

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Our approach

The global food system is vast and complex. To find alternative ways to provide for the needs of a growing human population without compromising human or ecological health, the first phase of the project focused on gaining a thorough understanding of the current system – identifying its key elements, quantifying flows and impacts, and finding root causes. Through expert interviews and system dynamics modelling, we identified the driving behaviors and underlying system structures that perpetuate these problems. We then defined a vision and action priorities (a roadmap) to transform the system to a sustainable state.  

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The outcome

Our comprehensive analysis and the leverage points and interactions we identified within the food system culminated in a comprehensive roadmap for policy, business, and consumers. The research has reinforced the food system as one of WWF’s main areas of action and a core part of its global strategy. It has also led to further research, concerning consumer behaviour and the food system (how to shift consumers to more sustainable diets) as well as a systems analysis of the European Food System.

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Agri-food Systems Consultant

ANY QUESTIONS?

For more information about this project, please get in touch.