Soil and water

Feeding the world without costing the earth | News

Researchers from the Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield are hosting national discussions on the sustainability of global food systems today (Monday 14 March 2022) at the Royal Society in London.

  • University of Sheffield celebrates ‘healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people’ at Royal Society of the Institute for Sustainable Food event
  • The UK food system is a major contributor to climate change, biodiversity loss and the depletion of our soil and water resources
  • The Institute hopes to bring partners together for a unique opportunity to create a fairer and healthier food system for the UK

Researchers from the Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield are hosting national discussions on the sustainability of global food systems today (Monday 14 March 2022) at the Royal Society in London.

Key figures from the Institute, together with keynote speaker Professor Guy Poppy, Director of UKRI’s Transforming UK food systems program and former Chief Scientific Adviser to the Food Standards Agency, will present how we can bring changes to ensure our agri-food systems are more sustainable and develop the innovations that will allow us to live within the limits of the natural world.

As discussed at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), food systems around the world are under unprecedented pressure. Amid the climate crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic, the looming challenges of feeding a growing population, tackling obesity and eradicating hunger have become even more urgent.

Professor Duncan Cameron, co-director of the Institute for Sustainable Food, said: “Four months on from COP26, where world leaders gathered to discuss saving the planet, you’d be forgiven for assuming it was all a waste of time, but at the University of Sheffield we put research into practice and work on the solutions we’re going to need to keep our food systems healthy for the future.

“In times of climate crisis, we desperately need to reduce global carbon emissions, restore nature and find ways to ensure the sustainability of global water supplies. The need for sustainable food systems that can guarantee equitable access to nutritious food for all is a crucial need that we can no longer ignore.

The event will bring together leading researchers and key industry figures in the field of food sustainability to share ideas and opportunities for collaboration. A screening of the new film, “Healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people”, will also take place, which explores how the research carried out by the Institute is linked to work in the field, with farmers, landowners land, schools and cities.

The film explores the work of the Institute, which aims to create resilient and sustainable food systems through regenerative agriculture, reclaiming unused land that can be used to produce food within local communities, supporting initiatives local foods, developing more sustainable production systems and improving the efficiency of supply chains.

Keynote speaker and director of UKRI’s ‘Transforming UK food systems’ programme, Professor Guy Poppy, who will attend virtually, noted“The British food system is making people and the planet sick. The way we produce and consume food is intimately linked to the major issues of today and tomorrow. The impacts of Covid-19 and climate change affect and have been affected by the food system.

“We must be ambitious and transform the current system to be healthier and more sustainable, which will require all players in complex supply chains and those who shape policy, trade relations and procurement to be the height of the challenge – if we don’t, then we and the planet will get sicker.We have the capacity and hopefully the enthusiasm and conviction to act now and not tomorrow.

Co-director of the Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield, Peter Jackson, said: “The UK food system is a major contributor to climate change, biodiversity loss and the depletion of our soil and water resources. Creating a more sustainable, resilient and healthier food system should be a priority for everyone.

“The Institute for Sustainable Food places the health of the environment and the health of people at the heart of its mission. By bringing together businesses, civil society organizations and government partners, we have a unique opportunity to create a new food system for our country that is more environmentally friendly and fairer for everyone.


The Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield

The world is rapidly approaching the limit of its ability to feed itself. It is one of the greatest threats to humanity. However, this is also a problem we can solve. The Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield has brought together over 100 researchers and their teams to transform the way we grow, produce and consume food to overcome this challenge.