Food sustainability

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Food is at the centre of our lives and an integral part of the European culture. However, the food we eat, the ways we produce it and the amounts wasted have major impacts on human health, natural resources and society as a whole:

  • Citizens –and children in particular– are increasingly suffering from overweight and obesity due to unhealthy diets.
  • Farmers and workers do not get a fair price for their produce.
  • One third of food is lost or wasted across the food chain.
  • The environment is paying the bill with the dramatic effects of food production and consumption on climate change, loss of biodiversity, air and water pollution, soil degradation, etc.

The COVID-19 crisis is a wake-up call for change. It has demonstrated that getting food "from farm to fork" cannot be taken for granted and has shown the interconnectedness of actors and activities throughout the food system. Fair, resource efficient, inclusive and sustainable supply chains in the whole agriculture and food sector are needed more than ever to deliver equally for citizens, farmers, workers and business.

The EESC has been for years at the forefront of calling for a sustainable and comprehensive food policy. Such an integrated and systemic approach is essential to tackle the multiple and interconnected challenges affecting food systems; to deliver economic, environmental and socio-cultural sustainability; to ensure integration and coherence across policy areas (such as agriculture, environment, health, education, trade, economy, technology, etc.); and to promote cooperation across levels of governance

  • During its section meeting of 22 November 2023, the NAT section held a debate on food speculation as a follow up of its opinion on "Food price crisis: the role of speculation and concrete proposals for action in the aftermath of the Ukraine war".

  • Fair prices for both farmers and consumers and truthful and transparent information are essential if the primary sector and consumers are to play their key role in guaranteeing strategic autonomy in European food production. This sovereignty must be in line with the European Green Deal's Farm to Fork strategy, which requires an adjustment of current food policies.

  • Speech by President Séamus Boland on EU food sovereignty

    Inaugural speech by Séamus Boland, President of the Civil Society Organisations' Group of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)

    Conference on 'EU food sovereignty: the role of agriculture, fisheries and consumers', Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 26 September 2023

  • EU organic awards
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    Today, as a true pan-European collaborative venture, the European Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), COPA-COGECA and IFOAM Organics Europe are together launching the first ever EU organic awards. These awards will recognise excellence along the organic value chain, rewarding the best and most innovative actors in organic production in the EU. Applications will be open from 25 March until 8 June 2022.

  • At the request of the French Presidency of the Council of the EU, in the opinion on Food security and sustainable food systems adopted at its plenary session on 19 January 2022, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) identified the key levers for sustainable and competitive EU food production and for reducing dependence on imports while increasing the EU's protein autonomy.

  • Strengthening local and regional food production and processing within the EU and guaranteeing decent working conditions for all workers in agriculture and the wider food sector are important objectives in seeking to improve the sustainability of the European food supply chain. Other aspects of key importance to sustainability are fair international trading practices, encouraging more women and young people into the farming sector, and structured stakeholder involvement and dialogue.

  • Extraordinary meeting of the Diversity Europe Group in the context of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU and the Conference on the Future of Europe on 29 November 2021

  • Recent events caused by COVID-19, extreme weather due to climate disruption, cyber-attacks and Brexit demonstrate the need to rethink priorities and improve the resilience and sustainability of EU food systems by reinforcing its autonomy. Food security is not a given for many EU citizens.

  • Organic Food
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    With Europe slowly getting back on track after the COVID-19 crisis, it is high time to move from words to action and implement the Farm to Fork strategy. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) strongly advocates supporting the transformation of Europe's food systems so that they are more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable, and notes that consumers have a key role to play in this context. It also stresses that cooperation (rather than competition) among food chain operators is essential to foster a more resilient and inclusive food system, ensuring a fair share for all.

  • Sustainable food Systems

    On World Sustainable Gastronomy Day, the EESC stresses the importance of setting the sustainability bar high on how the world should aspire to feed itself in the coming decades. It is critical to take into account where ingredients come from, how food is grown and how it gets from farms to our forks, and to carry out the urgent transformations needed to achieve more sustainable food systems. All citizens and stakeholders across all food chains, in the EU and elsewhere, should benefit from a just and inclusive transition, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn.