Changing Food Systems Could Create Multi-Trillion Dollars of Economic Benefits Every Year

Money Crops

A new report by the Food System Economics Commission highlights that transforming global food systems could yield socio-economic benefits of 5 to 10 trillion USD annually, surpassing the costs of such changes. It emphasizes the urgent need for policy overhaul in food systems, which currently cause more harm than good, and can potentially save millions of lives and mitigate climate impacts.

A new global policy report from the Food System Economics Commission (FSEC), authored by leading economists and scientists, reveals that worldwide changes in food systems could result in socio-economic gains ranging between 5 and 10 trillion USD annually.

The most ambitious and comprehensive study of food system economics so far underlines that food systems are currently destroying more value than they create and that an overhaul of food system policies is urgently needed. On the other hand, the cost of transformation would be much lower than the potential benefits, offering a better life to hundreds of millions of people.

“The costs of inaction to transform the broken food system will probably exceed the estimates in this assessment, given that the world continues to rapidly move along an extremely dangerous path. It is likely that we will not only breach the 1.5°C limit, but also face decades of overshoot”, states Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and FSEC Principal. “The only way to return back to 1.5°C is to phase out fossil fuels, keep nature intact, and transform food systems from source to sink of greenhouse gases. The global food system thereby holds the future of humanity on Earth in its hand”, he adds.

Food systems powerful means to potentially save 174 million lives from premature death

In the report, the scientists provide the most comprehensive modeling of the impacts of two possible futures for the global food system to date: our `Current Trends’ pathway, and the `Food System Transformation’ pathway. In its `Current Trends´ pathway the report outlines what will happen by 2050, even if policymakers make good on all current commitments: food insecurity will still leave 640 million people (including 121 million children) underweight in some parts of the world, while obesity will increase by 70% globally. Food systems will continue to drive a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, which will contribute to 2.7 degrees of warming by the end of the century compared to pre-industrial periods. Food production will become increasingly vulnerable to climate change, with the likelihood of extreme events dramatically increasing.

FSEC also finds that the food system can instead be a significant contributor to economies, and drive solutions to health and climate challenges. In the `Food System Transformation` pathway, economists show that by 2050 better policies and practices could lead to undernutrition being eradicated, and cumulatively 174 million lives saved from premature death due to diet-related chronic disease. Food systems could become net carbon sinks by 2040, helping to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees by the end of the century, protecting an additional 1.4 billion hectares of land, almost halving nitrogen surplus from agriculture, and reversing biodiversity loss. Furthermore, 400 million farm workers across the globe could enjoy a sufficient income.

“The cost of achieving this transformation – estimated at the equivalent of 0.2-0.4 percent of global GDP per year – is small relative to the multi-trillion dollar benefits it could bring. Food systems are a uniquely powerful means of addressing global climate, nature, and health emergencies at the same time – while offering a better life to hundreds of millions of people,” says Hermann Lotze-Campen, FSEC Commissioner and Head of Research Department “Climate Resilience” at PIK.

“Rather than mortgaging our future and building up mounting costs leading to high hidden health and environmental costs that we will have to pay down the line, policymakers need to face the food system challenge head-on and make the changes which will reap huge short- and long-term benefits globally,” says Ottmar Edenhofer, PIK Director and FSEC Co-Chair. “This report should open up a much-needed conversation among key stakeholders about how we can access those benefits whilst leaving no one behind,” he concludes.

Reference: “The Economics of the Food System Transformation.”

1 Comment on "Changing Food Systems Could Create Multi-Trillion Dollars of Economic Benefits Every Year"

  1. The only reason we have a food crisis on our planet is because ppl like above are dumb. We should be using fossil fuels to desalinate water and turn the Sahara desert into a giant forest/grass/farmland, it wouldn’t even be that difficult. Instead we shut down farms or put unrealistic regulations on them, look at Europe the farms are protesting everywhere cuz of elites like the ones who paid for this nonsense article. Climate change is a scam, nobody says it’s not getting hotter but hotter isn’t a bad thing if we use technology.

Leave a comment

Email address is optional. If provided, your email will not be published or shared.