Working group 11: Articulating the trade-offs along the food transformation pathway


Chair: Silvia Gaiani, Senior Researcher, Ruralia Institute, UH,


Sustainability in the food sector represents a combination of factors including food production, distribution, packaging, and consumption. Resources usage, environmental impact, and animal agriculture all affect sustainability, as well as health considerations, social and economic impacts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the fact that getting food “from farm to fork” cannot be taken for granted and has – in some cases- demonstrated the fragility of the current food system.  Building post-COVID resilience by promoting a holistic approach to sustainability in food systems is now crucial. We should also consider that the world is just nine harvests away from 2030 – the year when the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) have set the goal to end hunger- and that inevitable trade-offs exist between different policy objectives aiming to achieve a just and sustainable food system.

Hence, the working group on Sustainable Food Systems aims to reflect on the different facets of sustainable food and at:

  • Discussing barriers and vulnerabilities for the transition towards more sustainable food systems.
  • Discussing the need to consider much more deeply the implications of power and political economy on food systems: a food agenda driven largely by the global North risks undermining the needs of the global South.  
  • Exploring how digitalisation and innovation can help achieve more sustainable food systems (precision farming techniques, traceability, digital labelling, short food supply chains etc.) and how the lack of them can potentially hinder advancements
  • Discussing how to apply the vision for a “wellbeing economy” to food systems

The working group on Sustainable Food Systems aims to stimulate brainstorming and exchange of knowledge across the boundaries of disciplines and at enriching the discussion at the Development Day Conference 2022.