Food systems at the heart of sustainable development

Posted on 19 Oct 2022

Conventional food production is to nature loss what fossil fuels are to climate change - but because we can’t phase out food, we need to transform production

While agriculture has transformed human societies it has also changed the face of the planet, depleting the Earth’s natural capital and borrowing against the future. Food systems are the largest driver of deforestation, water use, biodiversity loss and soil degradation. They are both impacted by climate change and major contributors to climate change. Right now, food systems generate around 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions. We can't phase out food in the same way we can phase out fossil fuels, but food systems can be part of the solution. 

To explore what the future of the food industry could like and how to start shaping it in a sustainable way from this very day, the environmental organization WWF and their corporate partner Tesco are organizing a regional conference under the motto: “The Power is on Our Plates: Sustainable Food Systems in Central Europe”. The hybrid event will take place on 26 October in Prague under the auspices of Mikuláš Bek, Minister for European Affairs of the Czech Republic and will bring together business leaders, sustainability and conservation experts, and elected officials. The purpose of the conference is to identify what are the challenges and opportunities ahead of the food industry, as well as to become an impulse for sharing best practices, creating joint strategy and taking a collective action. All interested professionals engaged with the food industry are welcome to join the virtual forum. The registration for the live streaming is free.

What’s on the agenda menu? The conference organizers are promising to serve a three-course meal of valuable insights on what keeps the industry experts up at night, which are the urgent actions the sector should take and what’s the business case behind sustainability. Leading professionals from around Europe will join the conversation such as: Wim Debeuckelaere, Deputy Director General for Food Sustainability at the European Commission, Blaga Popova, Team Leader, Food Policy & Trade Negotiations at the European Commissionand, Giulia Riedo, Senior Policy Officer, Agriculture and Sustainable Food Systems at the WWF European Policy Office and many other. Here you can see the full list of the speakers.

Photos by Markus Spiske on Unsplash and Pixabay

“Our food system relies on nature, but nature is in trouble. How we produce our food is unnecessarily destroying habitats, accelerating climate change and decimating species. While it’s a complex problem, there is hope if we act now. Our food system can provide sustainable, healthy and affordable food for everyone”, says Andreas Beckmann, CEO of WWF Central and Eastern Europe. “We are organizing this conference in order to meet like-minded people and explore potential synergies, to ignite a vital conversation on how together we can make a change for the region and last but not least to inspire joint action for a future in which people, business and nature thrive”, he commented on the upcoming event.

Transforming food systems will take a seismic shift in the priorities of businesses, policymakers and consumers. However, it is estimated that the societal return on investment in terms of saved costs would be more than 15 times the investment cost, creating benefits for the economy, society and the planet. Contributing to this transformation would help to fight climate change, reverse nature loss, safeguard biodiversity and generate wide-reaching positive health impacts, through nutrition and disease prevention. For the finance sector this is also the leading way to reduce risks and create investment opportunities. 

“Food is central to our health and the health of our planet. One third of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted. The food which never gets eaten is responsible for 10% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. And the current economic situation makes tackling food waste even more urgent. We have no time to waste. Changing ways we produce, process and consume can bring enormous benefits to the health of people and the planet. To truly transform the food system we need to change the way we work together as an industry”, added Matt Simister, Tesco Central Europe CEO.

The event is being organized by WWF and Tesco, which back in 2021 teamed up to drive demand for sustainable choices from farm to fork. The Tesco-WWF partnership in the Central European region is focusing on three key areas:

  • Stimulating customer interest in, and raising awareness of sustainable food choices that they can make every day; 
  • Working together with suppliers and partners to raise awareness of best practice sustainable production and ensure affordable choices for shoppers.
  • Identify good practice and alternative viable options where Tesco needs to move to more sustainable production

Learn more about the partnership here and register for the conference here.


Mihaela Popova

Communications Manager

WWF Central and Eastern Europe