Jul 22, 2021

Food for thought as G20 countries suck it up

1 min
Crunch times
Big hitting countries struggle to make gains on food sustainability commitments

After some good progress initially, G20 nations are struggling to push through on their sustainability commitments and must do more or risk an even bigger crisis in years to come, according to a new index.

The Food Sustainability Index (FSI) is a ranking which assesses how countries approach food sustainability and resilience in the face of climate change. It also aims to examine the health and inclusiveness of localised food operations relative to the wider ecosystem. 

The report suggests current policies, projects and innovation lacked leadership and prevented new solutions from emerging. Experts featured in the latest FSI insist that there is significant room for improvement as G20 nations – including England, France, Germany, India, South Africa and Australia – are not dynamically addressing issues relating to the three pillars of food waste, sustainable agriculture and nutrition. 

Indeed, half of the G20 countries have still yet to introduce any binding legislation to fight food waste, and none of them have any credible monitoring mechanisms. Meanwhile, of the member states, only Canada and Japan finished within the top quartile for all three assessment criteria.

Overall, the index concluded that the majority of G20 states needed to make significant strides in the near future, especially as recent events had brought climate change into much sharper focus.

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Jul 26, 2021

Ireland could create template for global food sustainability

John Pinching
2 min
Luck of the Irish
Irish are dancing to an ethical food production tune as the world watches

Leveraging innovation could cultivate new agricultural breakthroughs, making Ireland the most responsible and sustainable food producer on Earth, according to a renowned local luminary.

Economist and author David McWilliams has insisted that Ireland can become a pivotal carbon-neutral, resource-efficient and sustainable food producer – possibly the most influential on the planet. 

He does acknowledge, however, that there are considerable obstacles on the country’s trailblazing journey to complete energy-efficient and sustainable food production.

McWilliams also claims that the widely-held belief within the EU that reducing food production thus reduces carbon emissions does not tally.

“For the European Union to get an aggregate reduction in carbon emissions,” said McWilliams at the Alltech ONE Ideas Conference. “It would seem to me much more logical to favour those countries that have had an evolutionary, ecological or environmental gift, in order to actually produce more, not less, because your input-output ratio is so much lower than it is either in the parched Mediterranean or in the frozen tundra of the North.”

Reflecting on the situation in the US, McWilliams said its agriculture output had tripled between 1948 and 2015, with exponential gains in efficiency. Surprisingly, agriculture only contributes to 7.5% of total US greenhouse gases, far below the 30% attributed to cars.

“I think American culture is changing, at least when you see it from the outside,” said McWilliams said of President Biden’s approach. “He's saying, ‘There's no point being wealthy if the wealth is only in the hands of a small minority. The wealth has to trickle down to everybody else.’”
McWilliams concluded that for Irish agriculture to modernise and grow, it should use one of Ireland’s leading sectors – technology – as a frame of reference.  It currently generates over $25 billion in exports.

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