14 March 2022

Feeding the world without costing the earth

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

Cropped shot of young Asian woman shopping for fresh organic red onions in supermarket. She is shopping with a cotton mesh eco bag and carries a variety of fruits and vegetables. Zero waste concept
  • University of Sheffield celebrates 'Healthy Soil, Healthy Food, Healthy People' at Institute for Sustainable Food Royal Society event
  • The UK food system is a major contributor to climate change, biodiversity loss and depletion of our soil and water resources
  • Institute hopes to bring together partners for a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a fairer and healthy food system for UK

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

Key figures from the Institute, along with keynote speaker Professor Guy Poppy, Director of UKRI's ‘Transforming UK food systems' programme and former Chief Scientific Advisor to the Food Standards Agency, will present how we can make 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. In a context of the climate crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic, the imminent challenges of feeding a growing population, tackling obesity and ending hunger have become even more pressing

Professor Duncan Cameron, Co-Director of the Institute for Sustainable Food, said: “Four months after COP26, where world leaders gathered to discuss saving the planet, you would be forgiven for assuming it was all a waste of time, but at the University of Sheffield we are putting research into practice and working on the solutions we’ll need to keep our food systems healthy for the future.”

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

The event will bring together leading researchers and key industry figures in the area of food sustainability to share ideas and opportunities to collaborate. A screening of the new film, 'Healthy Soil, Healthy Food, Healthy People', will also take place, which explores how the research being carried out by the Institute relates to work in the field, with farmers, landowners, 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 local food initiatives, developing more sustainable production systems, and improving the effectiveness of supply chains.

Keynote speaker and Director of UKRI's ‘Transforming UK food systems' programme, Professor Guy Poppy, who will be attending virtually, said: “The UK food system is making people and the planet sick. The way we produce and consume food is intertwined with the major challenges of today and tomorrow. The impacts of Covid-19 and climate change affect and have been affected by the food system.

“We need to be ambitious and transform the current system to be healthier and more sustainable, which will require everyone in complex supply chains and those shaping policy, trading relationships and involved in procurement to rise to the challenge - if we don't, then we and the planet will get sicker. We have the ability and hopefully the enthusiasm and belief to act now and not tomorrow.”

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

“The Institute for Sustainable Food places the health of the environment and the health of people at the core of its mission. By bringing together businesses, civil society organisations and government partners, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a new food system for our country, one that is kinder to the environment and fairer for everyone.”


The University of Sheffield Institute for Sustainable Food

The world is fast approaching the limit of its ability to feed itself. This is one of the most significant threats facing humanity. However, it is also a problem we can solve. The Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield has united over 100 researchers and their teams to transform how we grow produce and consume food to overcome this challenge.


Flagship institutes

The University’s four flagship institutes bring together our key strengths to tackle global issues, turning interdisciplinary and translational research into real-world solutions.