Towards a Sustainable, Healthy and Climate-Neutral Food System (FOOD)

This programme will seek a solution for moving towards a sustainable, healthy and climate-neutral food system. Here, ‘food system’ refers to the complex web of multilevel connections that tie together individuals, organisations, technology and the environment (land, air and water), other production factors (infrastructures, energy, fertilisers and pesticides, etc.) and biodiversity. Rather than part of the problem, the food system of the future must be part of the solution to climate change.

The food system has a pivotal role in achieving the goals of sustainable development. Agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions the world over. It also has significant impacts on the water supply and aquatic environments. In addition to climate impacts, other important subthemes include other environmental impacts and the impacts of various trends and needs for change on agricultural producers, regional economies and agricultural policy, and on consumers, culinary culture and consumption habits.

The agro-food sector and food prices have a major impact on income distribution, health and wellbeing. Agriculture and agricultural policy furthermore have considerable significance for regional economies. Eating habits and customs are an important part of a culture that contributes to building and strengthening communities from families to nations. Consumption habits mould our wellbeing and health and also influence land use, greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts. The food system therefore is not only of environmental but also economic and social significance.

The development of a sustainable, healthy, safe and climate-neutral food system calls for research into such areas as the supply of agricultural production inputs, agriculture and retail as components of the food system, interaction between various operators and market dynamics, and opportunities for public regulation. In addition, research is needed into new ways of food production, changes in soil and land use, nutrient flows and cycles, and social issues relating to food systems such as changes in consumption habits, food shortages and the impacts of income and scarcity on healthy nutrition.

Although it is not possible to investigate the entire food system within the confines of a single project, it is important that research is undertaken from a systemic perspective. The food system is a dynamic whole that comprises such elements as investment, production, packaging, trade, consumers and waste treatment.


Multi-benefit solutions to climate-smart agriculture (MULTA)

Consortium PI: Jari Liski, Finnish Meteorological Institute
Responsible for interaction activities: Pieta Jarva, Baltic Sea Action Group

Consortium composition: Finnish Meteorological Institute, University of Helsinki, University of Zürich, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Finnish Environment Institute, Baltic Sea Action Group

Legumes for sustainable food system and healthy life (LEG4LIFE)

Consortium PI: Anne-Maria Pajari, University of Helsinki
Responsible for interaction activities: Marjukka Lamminen, University of Helsinki

Consortium composition: University of Helsinki, Institute for Health and Welfare, Natural Resources Institute Finland

Just transition: Tackling inequalities on the way to a sustainable, healthy and climate-neutral food system (JUST-FOOD)

Consortium PI: Minna Kaljonen, Finnish Environment Institute
Responsible for interaction activities: Marjatta Selänniemi, e2 Research

Consortium composition: Finnish Environment Institute, University of Jyväskylä, e2 Research, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Institute for Health and Welfare, University of Bernin

More information

  • Programme Director Juha Helenius, Professor, University of Helsinki, firstname.lastname(at)

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