Symposium Calls for Food Systems Transformation

The online event highlighted sustainable food as part of the integrated solution to address climate change and biodiversity loss.

On 29 February 2024, UNU-IAS hosted an online symposium on sustainable food as part of integrated solutions to address climate change and biodiversity loss. The event was co-organized with the Ministry of the Environment, Japan (MOEJ).

In opening remarks, Yo Yarimizu (Director-General for Environmental Policy, MOEJ) summarized the outcomes of the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), and emphasized the importance of city-level initiatives and promoting sustainable lifestyles. Discussing the G7 Ministers' Meeting on Climate, Energy and Environment, he highlighted the need for local action to achieve net-zero, as well as circular and nature positive economy.

Shinobu Yume Yamaguchi (Director, UNU-IAS) emphasized that transforming food systems was key to addressing the interconnected challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. She noted that there was a growing interest in sustainable food, exemplified by the inaugural Food Systems Summit and discussions on food issues at COP28. Prof. Yamaguchi stressed that UNU-IAS would continue its research efforts on food system transformation.

Akio Takemoto (Head of Programme and Administration, UNU-IAS) discussed the carbon foot print of food production. He explained that 70% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the food supply chain in Japan originated from the post-production phase. However, when the carbon footprint of imported food is included, the emissions associated with production stages, such as land use change and agricultural emissions, increase significantly. He stressed the importance of reducing food miles by consuming locally produced food and using local feed and fertilizer, in addition to reducing emissions from food production and transportation. Dr. Takemoto shared best practices from around the world, such as sustainable food plans and school meals in Paris, France, and a free organic school meal programme in Seoul, the Republic of Korea.

A panel discussion moderated by Kaoru Fujita (Professor, Green Goals Initiative and Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University; Senior Deputy Editor, Nikkei ESG SDGs Center) discussed the impacts of environmental initiatives in food and agriculture on local communities, and how to overcome challenges in developing partnerships.

In closing, Kazuhiko Takeuchi (President, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES); Project Professor, Institute for Future Initiatives, The University of Tokyo; Visiting Professor, UNU-IAS) called for further action on transforming food systems as a part of the synergistic solution to tackle climate and biodiversity crises.