Title: Sustainable food system policies need to address environmental pressures and impacts: The example of water use and water stress
Citation: SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT vol. 730 p. 139151
Publication Year: 2020
JRC N°: JRC118605
ISSN: 0048-9697 (online)
URI: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969720326681?via%3Dihub
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139151
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Sustainable food systems are high on the political and research agendas. One of the three pillars of sustainability is environmental sustainability. We argue that, when defining related policies, such as policies under the European Green Deal, both environmental pressures and impacts carry important and complementary information and should be used in combination. Although the environmental focus of a sustainable food system is to have a positive or neutral impact on the natural environment, addressing pressures is necessary to achieve this goal. We show this by means of the pressure water use (or water footprint) and its related impact water stress, by means of different arguments: 1) Water use and water stress are only weakly correlated; 2) water use can be evaluated towards a benchmark, addressing resource efficiency; 3) water use is used for resource allocation assessments within or between economic sectors; 4) water amounts are needed to set fair share amounts for citizens, regions, countries or on a global level 5) the pressure water use requires less data, whereas water stress assessments have more uncertainty and 6) both provide strong communication tools to citizens, including for food packaging labelling. As a result, we present a water quantity sustainability scheme, that addresses both water use and water stress, and can be used in support of food system policies, including food package labeling.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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