UN Food Systems Summit: Why radical change to agriculture is necessary — Philip Lymbery

The traditional picture of cows grazing in a field contrasts with the reality of factory farming in many parts of the world (Picture: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“It is our moral imperative to keep our promise to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” said United Nations’ Secretary-General António Guterres ahead of the historic UN Food Systems Summit, which will take place on Thursday.

Planetary boundaries

And not before time, as food systems now threaten to bust planetary boundaries, risking widespread collapse of the natural world on which we all depend. Agriculture already dominates land-use around the world, with four-fifths of it devoted to livestock production. Despite such vast commitment of land, livestock products provide only 37 per cent of humanity’s protein and but a fifth of our calories. Hardly efficient and with little room for growth.


Despite being billed as a ‘people’s summit’, some important civil society interests have chosen to boycott it. Others have pulled out along the way, frustrated by the difficulties involved in creating change.

Summit outcomes

So, what can we expect from the summit? Well, its stated ambition is to launch bold new actions to deliver progress on all 17 sustainable development goals, each of which relies on “healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems”.

Chief Executive of Compassion in World Farming https://philiplymbery.com/