Two recently published reports investigate the state of the global food system and how it can transition within the circular economy and provide healthy diets.

In a report published on January 24, 2019, the non-governmental organization (NGO) Ellen MacArthur Foundation “explores the benefits of the transition to a regenerative food system.” Launched during the recent World Economic Forum, the “research [presented in the report] outlines a vision underpinned by circular economy principles, where food production improves rather than degrades the environment and where people have access to healthy and nutritious food.” The report leads to the identification of “three main ambitions”, which are: “source food grown regeneratively, and locally where appropriate; make the most of food (use by-products more effectively, prevent waste); design and market healthier food.” Following these three ambitions, the report estimates that by 2050 $2.7 trillion USD worth of annual benefits could be obtained in the form of environmental improvements, decreased health costs, and reduction of food waste and better use of food by-products.

On January 16, 2019, a report was published in medical journal The Lancet on the development of “healthy diets from sustainable food systems.” The authors set out “to develop global scientific targets based on the best evidence available for healthy diets and sustainable food production.” These targets would “define a safe operating space for food systems that allow us to assess which diets and food production practices will help ensure that the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement are achieved.” They note that the absence of such targets “has been hindering large-scale and coordinated efforts to transform the global food system.”

The report was able to establish these targets for “six key Earth system processes.” It goes on to describe five key strategies for achieving what the authors refer to as a “Great Food Transformation,” including political commitments to shift towards healthy diets, re-orientation of agricultural priorities away from high product quantities and towards providing healthy products, and halving food losses and waste.

Read more

Katy Askew (January 17, 2019). “‘We are currently getting this seriously wrong’: EAT-Lancet issues targets for healthy, sustainable diets.Food Navigator

Jenny Splitter (January 20, 2019). “Eat Less Meat? Ready Or Not, Welcome To The Great Food Transformation.” Forbes.


Ellen MacArthur Foundation (January 24, 2019). “Cities and Circular Economy for Food.” (pdf)

Willett, W., et al. (2019). “Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems.” The Lancet.