Seven Food System Metrics of Sustainable Nutrition Security

Gustafson D, Gutman A, Leet W, Drewnowski A, Fanzo J, Ingram J

DOI: 10.3390/su8030196

Background: The world faces an escalating challenge to meet accelerating demand for sustainably-produced, nutritious food in the face of human population pressure, resource scarcity, ecosystem degradation, and climate change. As the ambitious Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) give way to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), about 795 million people globally are still without sufficient calories and at least two billion lack sufficient nutrients.  The Agriculture & Food Systems Institute has developed and published a new paper giving a unique set of metrics for measuring food system performance.  The metrics make it possible to set meaningful goals, track progress, and evaluate the potential impact of food system interventions intended to improve sustainability and human nutrition outcomes.

Click here to download the metric paper news release.

Click here to download the 7 food system metrics of sustainable nutrition security infographic in English. Click here for the Spanish translation. 

Abstract: Sustainability considerations have been absent from most food security assessments conducted to date, despite the tremendous economic, environmental, and social implications of meeting accelerating food demand in the face of water shortages and climate change. In addition, previous food security work has generally focused only on achieving adequate calories, rather than addressing dietary diversity and micronutrient adequacy, both of which are critical to maintaining a healthy overall nutritional status. In response to the limitations of previous assessments, a new methodology is proposed here based on the concept of “sustainable nutrition security” (SNS). This novel assessment methodology is intended to remedy both kinds of deficiencies in the previous work by defining seven metrics, each based on a combination of multiple indicators, for use in characterizing sustainable nutrition outcomes of food systems: (1) food nutrient adequacy; (2) ecosystem stability; (3) food affordability and availability; (4) sociocultural wellbeing; (5) food safety; (6) resilience; and (7) waste and loss reduction. Each of the metrics comprises multiple indicators that are combined to derive an overall score (0–100). A novel SNS assessment methodology based on these metrics can be deployed by decision-makers and investors to set meaningful goals, track progress, and evaluate the potential impact of food system interventions intended to improve sustainability and human nutrition outcomes.

Download the journal article here.

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