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Publication | 14 October 2020

Transformation of our food systems - the making of a paradigm shift

In a new book, Transformation of our food systems - the making of a paradigm shift, 40 international experts set out the highlights and trends in food production since 2009, when the groundbreaking International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report on global agriculture was published. At that time, its 400 authors raised the alarm with the following message: "Business as usual is not an option". A real paradigm shift for agriculture, nutrition and food systems had emerged. Amongst the key elements of paradigm for food and farming systems was the recognition of planetary boundaries and natural scarcities, including rapid climate change and biodiversity loss as well as the scarcity of time left for addressing these issues.
The new book presents the results of 13 landmark scientific reports published over the past decade, and 15 updates on topics not sufficiently covered in the initial IAASTD report.

For the authors, it has been by and large a lost decade. All planetary boundaries, except the ozone layer, are being stressed harder today than ten years ago. Also, despite progress on the part of some countries, chronic undernourishment and hidden hunger, as well as obesity and other food related diseases have actually increased over the past decade.
Many scientists and other experts believe that the present decade will be the last chance to keep global warming and global biodiversity loss at an acceptable level for the survival of humankind. The food and agricultural system has become the single most important factor that can deliver fast and sustained results in relation to these challenges. The complexity of food system and ecosystem approaches is being addressed today by an emerging discipline, or rather trans-discipline, of agricultural, ecological, economic and health knowledge.

The new book calls for a radical transformation of food systems, backed-up by a strong political will, able to address power of imbalances and system lock-ins and, participatory democratic processes. Agroecology, healthy diets, and different trade and marketing systems are seen as the main players in this long-awaited food systems transformation.

"This book clearly proves from various perspectives that the agroecological approach is by far the most important and fundamental pathway to ‘build back better’ and to make the shift towards sustainable food systems", says World Food Prize winner and former co-president of the IAASTD Hans Herren.

Transformation of our food systems: The making of a paradigm shift

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