Intended for healthcare professionals


Nourishing people and the planet

BMJ 2023; 380 doi: (Published 23 January 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;380:p126
  1. Nicole de Paula, senior sustainable development goals expert1,
  2. Stefanos Fotiou, director1 2
  1. 1United Nations Food Systems Coordination Hub, Rome, Italy
  2. 2Office of Sustainable Development Goals, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, Rome, Italy
  1. Correspondence to: N de Paula Nicole.DePaula{at}

The strategic role of food systems for promoting planetary health

The path to human health and prosperity depends on the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.1 Yet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are off-track, challenging the fulfilment of essential human needs and jeopardising the integrity of our ecosystems.2 Accessible, nutritious, and affordable food is one of the most fundamental ways to improve public health, but almost 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020, 112 million more than in 2019.3 More than statistics, these numbers suggest a disequilibrium in the way we produce, pack, distribute, and consume food in the 21st century.4

Broken systems

Agriculture, forestry, and other land use account for 20-24% of global greenhouse gas emissions.5 This nexus of health, food, climate, and environment creates complexities with serious repercussions for human health.6 For example, …

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