Global Food Policy Report

The Global Food Policy Report has been published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), based in Washington D.C. The Global Food Policy Report is produced annually with updated information of major food policy issues, developments, and commitments made in 2015. In addition, it presents data on key food policy indicators and proposes key policy options for 2016.

The publication consists of eight general chapters, and one focusing on some regional developments in Africa, Asia and Central-South America. Here are the highlights:

1. Food Policy in 2015–2016: Reshaping the Global Food System for Sustainable Development

The proposed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are regarded as being a new path toward meeting current human needs, without compromising the ability of future generation. They will define the global develop­ment agenda for the next 15 years. Eliminating hunger and malnutrition through changes to food policy and food security are a principal priority.  Such changes will lead us to a more efficient, inclusive, and climate-smart global food system that is sustainable, nutrition- and health-driven, as well as business-friendly. This chapter concludes that to succeed in the long run, more research and exper­imentation with policies and technologies are needed.

2. Climate Change and Agriculture: Strengthening the Role of Smallholders

Small-scale producers can contribute broadly to the SDGs in order to achieve 11 out of the 17 goals. We can consider them as key contributors to global food security and nutrition, but they can also combat climate change, if they receive the knowledge and technical skills needed to build climate resilience. They also require social protection, and access to a high-value market that is strengthened, particularly women and youth. 

3. Toward a Sustainable Food System: Reducing Food Loss and Waste

Food availability and accessibility would increase if we can estimate the real amounts of food loss and waste from different perspectives, both at the macro- and micro- level, including production. For this reason, each of the value chain stages and the coordination of a wide diversity of actors should be addressed to achieve the SDG target 12.3, which calls for halving global food waste by retailers and consumers, and reducing food losses along the value chain by 2030.

4. Water, Nutrition, and Health: Finding Win-Win Strategies for Water Management

Water management is probably one on the biggest challenges in the development agenda, due to its widespread use, and strong links with other sectors. Water features directly or indirectly in most SDGs, despite being a scarce resource. Therefore, understanding the synergies and impacts amongst the multiple uses of water will be central to meeting the SDG targets.

5. Land and Soil Management: Promoting Healthy Soils for Healthier Agricultural Systems

Agriculture, which was only indirectly rec­ognized in the final agreement of the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21), should be put on a more sustainable track by implementing sustainable intensification technologies.  This can be achieved by promoting climate-smart soil, land management, managing ecosystem services at the landscape level and recognizing soil, land, and ecosystem services as public goods. Additionally, we cannot forget that healthy soils and agricultural sustainability will ensure a sustainable food supply and better health.

6. Nutrition and Sustainability: Harnessing Value Chains to Improve Food Systems

A healthy diet by reducing demand for unhealthy foods developed through unsustainable supply chains would require more valuable research, and practice along the value chain in each particular context, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution. For achieving better social, economic, environmental and health outcomes, a number of challenges must be addressed, including filling knowledge gaps, managing trade-offs among goals, and engag­ing the private sector in support of improved diets and sustainability.

7. Green Energy: Fueling the Path to Food Security

At the COP21, governments pledged to progressively reduce their future contributions to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which are associated with fossil fuels and energies. Achieving green and efficient energies is still a daunting task, but also an opportunity to support food security and food system transformation, particularly in developing countries by improving cookstoves and biomass production, using renewable energies, and increasing finan­cial support and technology transfers.

8. Shifting Diets: Toward a Sustainable Food Future

Transforming our diets, and the food system as a whole, toward a more sustainable one is a pressing need for the future. Take into account the three global diet trends: (1) over­consumption of calories, (2) overconsumption of protein, and a shift toward animal-based sources, and (3) growing demand for beef.   Shifts in diet such as increase plant-based protein could also contribute to the reduction of obesity and overweight, restraint competition from bioenergy and cutback food waste. To make this possible, some strategies must be implemented at all levels, in particular at governmental level which has much to do with package labeling and governments often facilitate the decision-making in which sustainability is forsaken for price. 

This report is closely related to the work that some European hospitals are doing in terms of food. You will be able to read more on hospitals’ work on sustainable and healthy food in our Food Report, published soon, including case studies from the following institutions:

Examples include: supporting local, organic and seasonal production systems, working on food waste management, enhancing different actors to improve coordination and communication among them, and protect natural resources (i.e. soil, water). In the end, sustainable food systems are a transversal issue for many other areas.

These actions are coherent with the SDGs, and other policies that are being debated right now in the European Institutions. This includes matters such as the Green Public Procurement (GPP) criteria on food and catering services, and the EC Circular Economy Package on food waste which reconsiders the whole economy cycle - from production and consumption – to make it more sustainable and competitive.


-Paola Hernandez, Sustainable & Healthy Food Programme Intern


Preview Image: International food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)



1 International Food Policy Research Institute (2016). 2016 Global Food Policy Report. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute.