Mapping the Future

20 Sep 2011

On September 20, 2011, the European Commission presented its “Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe by 2050”. The Roadmap provides a framework in which future actions to achieve resource efficiency and sustainable growth objectives can be shaped and implemented across different policy areas and sectors. The Roadmap further sets out a vision for the structural and technological changes that are needed to achieve such objectives up to 2050 and outlines a number of milestones to be reached by 2020.

The key natural resources reviewed by the document include water, air, land and soils, biodiversity and marine resources. The Roadmap identifies the key sectors that exert the greatest pressures on natural resources as food, buildings and mobility, the combined effects of which account for 70-80% of all environmental impacts. It is acknowledged in the document that the food sector is responsible for 17% of our direct greenhouse gas emissions and 28% of material resource use. The environmental impact of food consumption patterns is also highlighted, with particular emphasis on the ramifications of animal protein consumption. Moreover, the environmental implications of extensive water use and food waste (in the EU, 90 million tons of food or 180 kg per person are wasted every year) in connection with the food sector are identified as causes for concern.

Slow Food welcomes the fact that the Commission calls for a joint effort by farmers, the food industry, retailers and consumers in order to adopt resource efficient and environmentally friendly production techniques, sustainable food choices and reduced food waste in order to contribute to improving resource efficiency and food security. The
Commission’s intention to adopt a “Communication on Sustainable Food” in 2013, addressing issues such as ways to limit waste throughout the food supply chain and how to lower the environmental impact of food production and consumption, is also a positive development.

Finally, Slow Food also welcomes the Commission’s invitation towards member states to address food waste in their National Waste Prevention Programs during the course of 2013 and the invitation to develop a methodology for sustainability criteria for key food commodities by 2014.

Among the milestones to be achieved by 2020, Slow Food wishes to highlight the transition to healthier and more sustainable food production and consumption so as to achieve a 20% reduction in the food chain’s resource inputs and cutting the disposal of edible food in half. Another important milestone envisages a shift in consumption patterns to the effect that consumer demand will be higher for more sustainable products. In this scenario, both consumers and public have the right incentives to choose the most resource efficient products and services through “appropriate price signals and clear environmental information”, and companies will be incentivized to produce more resource efficient goods.

The wide array of proposals and measures outlined in the Roadmap, though constituting an important and unequivocal commitment towards sustainable, resource efficient growth, will now have to pass the test of being put into practice at EU and Member State level. The
Commission has committed to preparing “appropriate policy and legislative proposals” in order to implement the Roadmap and Member
States will also be required to act at their level, developing new efficiency measures with regard to business and consumers. Slow Food will closely monitor and advocate for the rapid, concrete implementation of the policy initiatives and milestones identified in the Resource Efficiency Roadmap in connection with the food sector.

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