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Fair and sustainable food systems: from vicious cycles to virtuous circles

Michel Pimbert

IIED Briefing, 4 pages

Modern industrial food, energy and water systems are fundamentally unsustainable. Their linear, and increasingly globalised, structure assumes that the Earth has an endless supply of natural resources at one end, and a limitless capacity to absorb waste and pollution at the other. Our continued reliance on these industrial systems is pushing the world into a vicious cycle of food shortages, climate chaos, famine and disaster. How can we transform our production models for food, energy and water to deliver lower ecological and social footprints? The answer lies in using circular models that mimic natural systems to reduce both external inputs and waste. Case studies from across the world show that circular production systems can and do work for sustainability and equity. But these remain largely isolated examples. Upscaling successful circular systems for food, energy, water and waste management requires policymakers to act on seven fronts.

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How and under what conditions can decentralised governance, capacity building and participation by farmers promote food systems that adapt to changing conditions and climates and maintain agricultural biodiversity?

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Sustaining local food systems and agricultural biodiversity

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