"There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says 'Morning boys, how’s the water?'
And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, 'What the hell is water?'"
- David Foster Wallace, “This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life”
Entering the words Food Systems Transformation in a search engine yields close to five million results. By limiting the search to the specific term “Food Systems Transformation” this is narrowed to slightly over 300,000 results. Of roughly 1,100 scientific articles under this topic, the vast majority (987) have been published since 2018. The term Food Systems Transformation is therefore not only increasingly dominant in international debates around food security, but appears to be the most important link between agriculture and sustainability. It is used as a buzz word on many occasions. And for good reasons.
Food systems provide the foundation for global food security, nutrition, and livelihoods of almost eight billion people. At the same time, food systems are driving several intersecting social, ecological and health crises of global concern, and jeopardising progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. The persistent and growing issues of hunger, food-borne diseases, poverty, environmental degradation, and climate change call for a transformation of food systems. However, despite increasing international attention and calls for food systems transformation, it remains unclear what transformation means in the different contexts, how it can be achieved and how seeming trade-offs between policies or various sustainability goals can be overcome.
TMG aims to address these knowledge gaps by undertaking new research activities. Coordinated by WWF as part of the Assessment and Communication of Climate Impacts of Food project, this body of work aims to promote sustainable consumption patterns and to empower companies, politicians, and consumers to make more sustainable decisions when it comes to food.
The TMG project contributes to the research component of CLIF, which seeks to develop a systematic understanding of the transformation of food systems. This includes the state of the debate, key actors and drivers, and strategies for concrete political and structural pathways to transformation. TMG, in collaboration with an extended group of experts, will convene a series of workshops and related strategic reports, as well as accompanying future high-level consultations on food systems transformation. Ultimately, it is expected that decision makers from the political, civil society and business spheres will use the expert group’s analysis to shape blueprints for concrete food system transformation pathways.