SUSFOODBEL - Transitioning to healthy diets from sustainable food systems in Belgium: Priority policy actions and their multiple sustainability impacts

Last updated on 14-12-2022 by Pierre Daubresse
September 1, 2022
December 31, 2026

Service(s) working on this project

Sciensano's project investigator(s):

Partners

Jo Dewulf
Wouter Achten
Erik Matthijs

In short

In Belgium about 20% of total greenhouse gas emissions are due to the food system (including 10% due to agricultural production). Creating healthy diets from sustainable food systems is key to transition to a carbon-neutral society in Belgium. The main focus of the SUSFOODBEL project is to measure multiple direct and indirect sustainability impacts of transitioning from current diets to healthy diets from sustainable food systems in Belgium, as well as the contributions of the prioritized policy actions to realize such a transition.

Project summary

Globally, food systems contribute to 30% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and most of biodiversity loss, they use 40% of the earth’s surface and 70% of freshwater resources and are a major polluter of terrestrial and aquatic systems.

In Belgium about 20% of total GHG emissions are due to the food system (including 10% due to agricultural production). Creating healthy diets from sustainable food systems is key to transition to a carbon-neutral society in Belgium.

In this project, novel tools and processes (food policy index, business impact assessment on nutrition and the environment) will be applied to evaluate in-depth, with strong stakeholder engagement and participation, the current policies of Belgian governments and the commitments and practices of major Belgian food businesses as well as to derive key priority policies and their trajectory scenarios from farm to fork to create healthy diets from sustainable food systems. Such diets will be defined using the EAT Lancet recommendations adapted to the Belgian context. Consumers appetite, as well as governments’ and businesses’ readiness to implement these priority actions will be assessed. A comprehensive Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA)framework will be developed to measure multiple direct and indirect sustainability impacts of transitioning from current diets to healthy diets from sustainable food systems in Belgium, as well as the contributions of the prioritized policy actions to realize such a transition. Sustainability impacts include impacts on the natural environment (i.e. ecosystem quality, human health, resource depletion end points)and diverse social and socioeconomic effects (i.e. consumer’s food purchases, diets, diet cost and affordability, health and health inequalities, and health care costs and expenditures). To inform the final set of policy recommendations for the federal Government, a systemic exploration of trade-offs and synergies across actors, policy domains and governance levels will be conducted for each of the priority policy actions.

It is anticipated that this project will result in a proposal for a national agenda with concrete priority actions to create healthy diets from sustainable food systems. The food policy index, the business impact assessment, and the tailored LCSA framework can support the federal Government to track progress on the transition over time and estimate the sustainability impacts of future proposed policies.

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