Originally delivered as the Stegner Lecture at the 2020 annual symposium of the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment, Jessica Fanzo here explores how, in the context of the broad global trends of population growth, climate crisis, and inequitable food availability, food systems need to be re-oriented to ensure they can produce enough food to nourish the world. This re-orientation includes moving toward on-farm sustainable food production practices, decreasing food loss and waste, addressing poverty by creating jobs and decent livelihoods, and providing safe, affordable, and healthy diets for everyone. At the same time, food systems must decrease the pressure on biodiversity loss, conserve land and water resources, minimize air and water pollution, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. This is a lot to ask of an entrenched system.
Food policy is central to changing systems, and bold policies must be applied to accelerate and incentivize economic, societal, and technological transformations towards a more socially just and sustainable global food system. But policy decisions come with synergies, trade-offs, and sometimes unexpected consequences. In a world of uncertainty, we must seek global solutions to human and planetary health.
Jessica Fanzo is the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Global Food Policy and Ethics and vice dean of Faculty Affairs at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. She was the editor-in-chief for Global Food Security and since 2017 has served on various advisory groups including the Food Systems Economic Commission, the Global Nutrition Report, the Global Panel of Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition Foresight 2.0 report, the UN High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Systems and Nutrition, and the EAT-Lancet Commission. She is the author of Can Fixing Dinner Fix the Planet? published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2021.