European Green Deal: the New Farm to Fork & Biodiversity Strategies

Take a closer look at some of the most significant sustainability policies the EU’s food system is set to face in upcoming years.

The European Commission’s (EC) European Green Deal aims to make the EU climate neutral by 2050 through policy initiatives that extend to all sectors and hope to turn climate and environmental challenges into opportunities. In doing so, the EC hopes to boost the EU’s economy, improve the health and quality of life of its peoples, and protect the environment all the while promising to leave no one behind.

“In line with the European Green Deal, [the Biodiversity and Farm to Fork Strategies] propose ambitious EU actions and commitments to halt biodiversity loss in Europe and worldwide and transform our food systems into global standards for competitive sustainability, the protection of human and planetary health, as well as the livelihoods of all actors in the food value chain.”  - European Commission, May 2020

The most substantial impact on the food industry is expected to come from the Farm to Fork and biodiversity measures which are set to ensure more sustainable food systems and protect the fragility of our ecosystem respectively. According to an EC press release, the two strategies were conceptualised to mutually reinforce each other to bring together nature, farmers business and consumers for jointly working towards a competitively sustainable future.

 

The New Farm to Fork Strategy

The Farm to Fork strategy is aimed at bringing affordable and sustainable food to Europe’s tables, tackling climate change, protecting the environment, preserving biodiversity, and increasing organic farming. Starting from the point of cultivation all the way through to consumers’ plates, Farm to Fork will work to create a circular food economy. This will require educational measures to increase the flow of information amongst citizens, an increase in overall food production efficiency, large-scale improvements for storage and packaging, heightened sustainability measures for processing and transportation, promoting the consumption of healthier foods, and reducing food loss and waste. Thus, the Farm to Fork strategy not only forms the heart of the Green Deal but it also creates the foundation for the European Commission’s work toward achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

“The Farm to Fork Strategy is an opportunity to reconcile our food system with the needs of the planet and to respond positively to Europeans’ aspirations for healthy, equitable and environmentally-friendly food. The aim of this strategy is to make the EU food system a global standard for sustainability.” Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, 2020

The Farm to Fork Strategy examines all actors and efforts along the entire food supply chain, which comprises consumers, producers, climate, and the environment and proposes a series of measures aimed at building a stronger, more resilient food system throughout the EU. Key challenges, such as the threat of climate change and biodiversity loss, are thereby taken into account. Solutions and opportunities here include minimising the environmental impact of food production and distribution, preserving and protecting land and soil, and promoting biodiversity. Economically, the overarching aim is to achieve so-called ‘competitive sustainability’ while promoting fair trade and new business opportunities, as well as ensuring food affordability for consumers. Socially, food security, nutrition and public health are at the strategy’s core. The EC’s most significant commitments within this strategy include:

  • Taking action to reduce the overall use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% and the use of more hazardous pesticides by 50% by 2030. 

  • Acting to reduce nutrient losses by at least 50%, while ensuring that there is no deterioration in soil fertility. This will reduce the use of fertilisers by at least 20% by 2030.

  • Taking action to reduce overall EU sales of antimicrobials for farmed animals and in aquaculture by 50% by 2030. 

  • Reaching the objective of at least 25% of the EU’s agricultural land under organic farming by 2030 and a significant increase in organic aquaculture.

Access the original source—the full Farm to Fork Strategy—here.

 

The New Biodiversity Strategy

The Commission’s Biodiversity Strategy is pivotal in recognising the interdependence of life on Earth. The EU thereby acknowledges the threats imposed by collapsing ecosystems and biodiversity loss and provides solutions for reversal and prevention. It is now widely understood and accepted that protecting and conserving biodiversity is crucial to human survival. Floods in coastal regions, for example, can be mitigated by protecting wetlands. The future of the seafood industry, on the other hand, rests in the conservation of global marine populations. And crop yields will reduce in the next decade if pollinators are not protected. The EC’s most significant commitments within this strategy therefore include:

  • Legally protecting a minimum of 30% of the EU’s land area and 30% of the EU’s sea area and integrate ecological corridors, as part of a true Trans-European Nature Network. 

  • Strictly protecting at least a third of the EU’s protected areas, including all remaining EU primary and old-growth forests. 

  • Effectively managing all protected areas, defining clear conservation objectives and measures, and monitoring them appropriately.

Access the original source—the full Biodiversity Strategy—here.

“We humans are part of, and fully dependent on, this web of life: it gives us the food we eat, filters the water we drink, and supplies the air we breathe. Nature is as important for our mental and physical wellbeing as it is for our society’s ability to cope with global change, health threats and disasters.” European Commission, 2020 

 

Resources & Further Reading

Imagery: Unsplash.com

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