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Daily News Analysis

Food System Economics Commission

2nd February, 2024 Economy

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  • Recently, a Report was released by the Food System Economics Commission.
  • It was titled The Economics of the Food System Transformation

Findings of the Report

Current Food Systems' High Costs:

  • The existing global food systems incur significant costs, outweighing their contributions to development.
  • The urgent need for a sustainable transformation is highlighted, estimated at $500 billion annually (0.2–0.4% of global GDP).

Environmental and Health Costs:

  • Annual environmental cost of current food systems is $3 trillion, with an additional health cost of at least $11 trillion.
  • These costs underscore the critical need for a shift towards sustainability and inclusivity.

Socio-Economic Benefits of Transformation:

  • Estimated socio-economic benefits of transforming food systems range from $5 trillion to $10 trillion annually (4-8% of global GDP).
  • A committee of eminent scientists and academics emphasizes the potential for substantial global benefits.

Feasibility and Affordability:

  • Feasibility of transforming global food systems into inclusive, health-enhancing, and environmentally sustainable is affirmed.
  • However, the report stresses that lower-income countries face financial constraints, hindering their ability to participate.

Contrast of Pathways to 2050:

  • Two pathways analyzed: Current Trends (CT) and Food System Transformation (FST).
  • CT pathway predicts food insecurity, rising obesity, and continued environmental challenges, emphasizing the need for change.

Impact on Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions:

  • Transformation to FST can significantly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
  • Under FST, food systems become net carbon sinks by 2040, aiding in limiting global warming to below 1.5°C.

Economic Benefits and Human Health:

  • Global convergence towards healthy diets could contribute up to 70% of the total economic benefits of pursuing the FST pathway.
  • Better policies and practices by 2050 can eradicate undernutrition and save 174 million lives from diet-related chronic diseases.

Positive Developments and Carbon Sinks:

  • Positive developments include emissions becoming net negative by 2040, extensive reforestation in Brazil and Latin America, and reduced extreme weather events.
  • Food systems becoming net carbon sinks can help protect an additional 1.4 billion hectares of land and reverse biodiversity loss.

Global Economic Impact and Farm Worker Well-being:

  • Pursuing FST could lead to a 5% increase in global GDP by 2020.
  • 400 million farm workers globally could enjoy a sufficient income, fostering economic stability.

Alignment with Global Initiatives:

  • The report aligns with the UN Food Systems Summit 2021 and the sustainable agriculture, resilient food systems, and climate action declaration by over 150 countries.
  • Urges policymakers to address the food system challenge for short- and long-term global benefits.

Call for Action:

  • Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair for the commission, emphasizes the need for policymakers to tackle the food system challenge head-on.
  • Urges stakeholders to engage in a conversation about accessing benefits while ensuring inclusivity.Top of Form

Food System Economics Commission

FSEC Overview:

  • Independent academic commission focused on equipping policymakers for transformative changes in food and land-use systems.

Key Collaborators:

  • Brings together experts from diverse fields, representing organizations like the World Health Organization, World Bank, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, London School of Economics, and World Resources Institute Africa.

Joint Initiative:

  • Collaboration between organizations dedicated to transforming the global food system through partnerships, research, and scientific advice.

Partners' Roles:

  • Lead communications and engagement partner, founded by the Strawberry Foundation, Stockholm Resilience Centre, and Wellcome.
  • Lead research partner, fostering diversity and resilience in food and land use systems globally.
  • Lead research partner providing scientific advice on climate change, natural and social sciences.



Q. Evaluate the drawbacks of current global food systems in relation to their costs versus contributions to development. Propose succinct policy measures for creating a more sustainable and development-oriented global food system.