Food demand makes up 26% of the global Ecological Footprint.
Two major issues when addressing food sufficiency, malnutrition, and hunger (UN Sustainable Development Goal 2) are:
1. Resource inefficiency in food production.
Animal calories are significantly more resource intensive than plant calories to produce. In fact, China’s government is committed to reducing meat consumption by 50% by 2030. This would reduce the Ecological Footprint by more than 126 million global hectares and move the date of Overshoot Day back 1.5 days (according to China’s current Ecological Footprint figures).
2. Food waste.
About one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption — 1.3 billion tonnes every year — gets lost or wasted, with high and low-income countries dissipating roughly the same quantities of food, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. That’s equivalent to 9% of humanity’s Ecological Footprint.
In the United States, an estimated 40% of the food goes to waste. That’s the equivalent of the total Ecological Footprint of Peru and Belgium combined, or the total biocapacity of Mexico.
One target of UN Sustainable Development Goal 12 Sustainable Consumption and Production is to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses, by 2030. If we cut food waste in half worldwide, we would move Overshoot Day by 11 days.
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UN Sustainable Development Goals
In September 2015, 193 world leaders agreed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end extreme poverty, inequality, and climate change by 2030. To be sustainable, development ultimately must also fit within our planet’s resource budget.
Food is a Major Ecological Footprint Driver
This year, Global Footprint Network collaborated with the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition to create an infographic that showcases food-based solutions to lower the Ecological Footprint. Cutting food waste in half worldwide could move the date of Overshoot Day 11 days; eating less protein-intensive food worldwide could move Overshoot Day 31 days.