SAPEA Report 2020: A sustainable food system for the European Union

Published by SHARECITY on the 28th July 2020.


Credit to: SAPEA 2020.

Food systems have complex social, economic and ecological components, and radical transformation is needed to make them sustainable. This report from SAPEA lays out the science on how that transition can happen in an inclusive, just and timely way.

The global demand for food will increase in the future. To meet this demand, it is not enough simply to increase productivity in a sustainable way. We also need to change from linear mass consumption to a more circular economy — which will mean changing our norms, habits and routines.

The evidence shows that this kind of behaviour change needs to happen collectively, not just individually. So we need joined-up governance at local, national and international levels.

Food systems also contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. This can be addressed by reducing waste or directing it back into the supply chain.

A mix of different measures will be most effective. The evidence shows that taxation is one of the most effective ways to modify behaviour. Accreditation and labelling schemes can also have an impact.

Meanwhile, reform of European agriculture and fisheries policies offer great opportunities to develop resilience and sustainability.

But there is not yet enough evidence to know for sure exactly what works in practice, so the steps we take should be carefully evaluated, and trade-offs anticipated.

*The text of this work is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited. The licence is available at

*Note: SHARECITY’s work is referenced throughout the SAPEA 2020 Report, however, this piece of work was created by SAPEA and the European Commission.

Please cite this report as:

Science Advice for Policy by European Academies. (SAPEA, 2020) A sustainable food system for the European Union. SAPEA: Berlin. DOI:

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