• Silvana Moscatelli
  • Hamid El Bilali
  • Mauro Gamboni
  • Roberto Capone


One of the biggest challenges facing humanity is achieving sustainable food
security in the face of population growth, resource scarcity, ecosystem degradation
and climate change. Transitioning towards sustainable food systems (SFS) is a
must for achieving sustainable development. This review paper highlights the need
to adopt a holistic, multidimensional, interdisciplinary and systemic approach for
better understanding food systems, which is a prerequisite for fostering transition
towards sustainability. A better understanding of food systems means
comprehending issues at play from ‘farm to fork’ i.e. production (crop, animal,
seafood), processing, trade and distribution, and consumption. For gaining a full
awareness also cross-cutting issues such as gender, innovation and technology
should be considered. Such a deep knowledge and consequent corrective actions
are crucial to address the multiple challenges and dysfunctions of the current global
food system such as food insecurity, obesity, food waste, climate change,
biodiversity loss, land degradation, water depletion, deforestation, market
concentration and food heritage erosion. It is fundamental to foster transition
towards sustainable and resilient food systems to achieve sustainable food and
nutrition security for present and future generations. All dimensions (environment,
economy, society and culture, nutrition and health) of food sustainability should be
tackled while considering policy and governance. Different food consumption and
production models can help speeding up journey towards sustainability. These
include, inter alia, organic agriculture and different alternative food systems
allowing to link consumption and production such as urban agriculture,
community-supported agriculture and short food chains. While the challenge is
titanic, there is a menu of options that can be jointly used to foster shift towards
SFS such as sustainable and eco-functional intensification, sustainable diets, food
loss and waste reduction. Nevertheless, a holistic and systemic approach is
necessary to develop a systems thinking for generating interdisciplinary knowledge
needed to support transition towards sustainable food systems.