Dependencies of Food System Transformation in the Wider Economy and Society

November 2019

Wider Socioeconomic Food System Dependencies

This study explores how wider economic and societal transformations can impact the food system and affect its sustainability. In the past decades, much attention has been devoted to sustainability issues that arise within the food and agriculture sectors (core food system), e.g. food security, agricultural and food policies, agricultural practices, and productivity. Yet, less is known about the forces that influence sustainability from outside the core food system.

Our study has identified four key economic and societal changes and trends, external to the core food system, that are expected to dominate the policy landscape in the coming years and can affect the sustainability of the food system:

1) poverty, inequality, and social security
2) the pressing need for climate change mitigation actions
3) the increasing use of preferential or regional trade agreements
4) changes in lifestyles as key transformations

Our analysis relies on a literature review guided by a unifying conceptual framework that illustrates how the food system is impacted by wider societal and economic changes through five main mechanisms:

1) food prices
2) consumption choices
3) land-use changes and agricultural decisions
4) institutional changes
5) technological changes

Client: WWF-UK

Authors: Stefania Lovo, Karlygash Kuralbayeva & Daniela Baeza Breinbauer

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