Sustainable Food Systems

Since the end of the Second World War, food systems have succeeded in providing a rapidly growing world population with an ever-increasing supply of diverse foods. However, this great achievement has also left its mark. Food systems are driving climate change, biodiversity loss and a host of other global challenges, while also suffering from the consequences of these challenges. Only about two thirds of all food produced is actually consumed – the rest is lost or wasted. Non-communicable diseases resulting from imbalanced diets have become a major risk to human health. All this underlines the need for a shift towards greater sustainability.

A food system comprises all activities along the food value chain, including consumption and disposal as well as factors related to it such as infrastructure and marketing. It also includes their impact on the environment, the economy and society. A food system can be considered sustainable if food security is ensured for everyone without compromising the economic, social and environmental foundations for present and future generations. The Federal Office for Agriculture advocates sustainable food systems at three levels:


Sustainable intensification of agriculture

  • Livestock farming
  • Plant health
  • Water efficiency in agriculture

Supporting stakeholders

  • Youth
  • Responsible investment and corporate governance
  • Mountain agriculture
Biodiversität und Landschaft

Protection and sustainable use of agroecosystems

  • Biodiverstity 
  • Climate
  • Water availability and quality
  • Soils

Sustainable diets

Sustainable diets are eating habits with a low environmental impact that contribute to a healthy life and preserve the livelihoods of both present and future generations. A sustainable diet protects biodiversity and the climate, is culturally acceptable, nutritious and healthy, and economically fair and affordable. The concept of a sustainable diet establishes a link between the production and consumption sides in the food system. It contributes to the health of people as well as the planet.

Follow-up process to the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit 2021

UN Food Systems Summit

In view of the multiple challenges in food systems worldwide, a UN Food Systems Summit was held in September 2021.

Over 150 member countries presented their priorities for transforming their food systems and pledged their commitment within international multi-stakeholder coalitions formed in the framework of the Summit.

A key outcome of the Summit was the strong momentum and consensus on the need to bring about a transformation of food systems. In the context of the Summit, some 30 coalitions were launched and over 110 countries have since developed and submitted national pathways to transform their food systems. A follow-up process was put into place to accompany the implementation of the results in the form of biennial conferences up until 2030.

Switzerland's national pathway is based on the 2030 Sustainable Development Strategy 2030 (2030 SDS) and the results of the dialogues held between March and June 2021 in preparation for the Food Systems Summit. Switzerland also joined the Agroecology Coalition and The Coalition of Action for Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems for Children & All.

National implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy (Agenda 2030)

With the 2030 Sustainable Development Strategy (2030 SDS) and the associated 2021–2023 Action Plan, the Federal Council defines the transformation towards sustainable food systems as a key issue for Switzerland to implement the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To this end, it defines four goals on healthy and sustainable nutrition, reduction of food waste, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions along the food value chain, and environmentally and animal-friendly agriculture. The associated 2021–2022 Action Plan provides further details.


The 10 Elements of Agroecology

Agroecology refers to holistic, systems-oriented and science-based agriculture that is guided by social, cultural, political, economic and ecological principles, with a focus on farmers' experiences and shared learning. This includes local and innovative marketing models that bring producers, processors and consumers closer together.  Agroecology contributes to building sustainable food systems.

Further information

Last modification 09.01.2023

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Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG)
International Affairs and Food Systems

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Patrick Mink

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