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Tropentag 2023, September 20 - 22, Berlin, Germany

"Competing pathways for equitable food systems transformation: trade-offs and synergies."

A bottom-up approach to sustainable transformation: accounting for regional preferences in global environmental goals

Vartika Singh1,3, Miodrag Stevanovic2, Chandan Kumar Jha3, Abhijeet Mishra4, Ranjan Kumar Ghosh3, Hermann Lotze-Campen1, Alexander Popp2

1Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
2Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany
3Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India
4International Food Policy Research Institute, Washinton D.C., United States


Food systems transformation policies are presently at odds between ensuring nutritional security and environmental protection. Whereas nutritional security depends on the consumption of diverse and healthy foods, there may be local and global impacts of food production, aside from local barriers to affordability and adoption. Being the largest populated country and one of the largest food producers, globally, this issue becomes more pertinent for India. While India may be food secure, there is still a long way to go for the nation to become nutrition secure and make progress towards the other sustainable development goals (SDGs). In this paper, we present comparisons between two types of healthy dietary recommendations made by global and national institutions as compared to the status quo and examine their implications on environmental indicators in India as well as the world using a global partial equilibrium model. Our analysis of food demand changes between the present diets, globally recommended values from the EAT Lancet Commission as well as recommendations of India’s National Institute of Nutrition show that regional recommendations that account for regional dietary preferences and cultures have greater environmental outcomes for key indicators. While there is an overall reduction of total calories consumed in the alternative diet scenarios, there is greater diversity on the plate. These results persist when we perform a sensitivity analysis with varying trade scenarios. In scenarios with liberalized trade, a transition to locally recommended diets yields positive outcomes for environmental indicators but have tradeoffs with other national policies such as India’s export promotion policy. Our results point towards the need for accounting for regional food demand patterns in a global context, when assessing environmental impacts to determine transformation pathways for food systems for countries.

Keywords: Diets, food systems, India, pathways, sustainable

Contact Address: Vartika Singh, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany, e-mail: vartika271987@gmail.com

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