A diet for people and planet - new WWF report

Posted on 09 October 2020

WWF today launches Planet-Based Diets, a new approach to food that can help ensure a healthy planet and healthy people alike.
The initiative provides a global framework as well as a country-level customised platform to help accelerate the adoption of healthy and sustainable diets at the national and individual level. Adopting such eating patterns has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, wildlife loss by up to 46 per cent, and premature deaths by at least 20 per cent. 

Click here to access the platform

Against the backdrop of the ongoing pandemic, it has become more important than ever to adopt healthier and more considered diets. The major drivers of emerging infectious disease, such as COVID-19, have been shown to be the unsustainable conversion of land for agriculture, intensive livestock farming and illegal trade in wildlife, often for human consumption. 

EU diets and food supply chains are huge drivers of nature loss both in Europe and further afield. Some steps have been taken to address this, notably through the European Commission’s Communication on Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests, as well as the EU Farm to Fork strategy, which only timidly addresses challenges related to consumption and diets, but has the potential to create a robust overarching framework to reinforce sustainability in all of the EU’s food-related policies. 

Andreas Baumüller, Head of Natural Resources at WWF’s European Policy Office, said: 
“The Planet-Based Diets approach reinforces that every decision we make around our food consumption - be that as individuals, nations or regions - has an impact on our natural world. Unfortunately, the potential of EU policies to help achieve the needed dietary transition remains largely unexplored. We call on all EU institutions to reinforce the supply-chain and consumption related actions of the Farm to Fork Strategy, including with a strong new law to end EU-driven deforestation once and for all.”

Globally, the EU is responsible for over 10% of forest destruction through its consumption of imported commodities like soy for animal feed, palm oil, coffee and cacao. With the European Commission having recently launched a public consultation on deforestation, citizens around the world have a one-shot deal at telling EU policymakers that food products linked to deforestation must not be allowed onto Europe’s supermarket shelves. By participating in the consultation via #Together4Forests - a platform, launched by WWF and 130+ other environmental groups - EU citizens can push for such a law to keep products linked to deforestation, forest fires, nature destruction and human rights violations off their plates. To date, 150,000+ citizens have already expressed their support for new legislation. 

“Dietary changes take place at the local level, so it was important for us to translate the global agenda into actionable national-level analysis,” said Brent Loken, WWF’s Global Food Lead Scientist and lead author of the report. “There is no one size fits all solution. For instance in some countries there needs to be a significant reduction in the consumption of animal-sourced foods, while in others an increase may be needed to tackle burdens of undernutrition. Health and the environment need to be considered together. Our Impact & Action Calculator will help countries to better understand the impacts of dietary shifts, so they can encourage all their citizens to adopt diets that are good for both people and the planet.” 

Beyond a full report on the topic, WWF also launched today its Planet-Based Diets Impact & Action Calculator. The calculator can be used to measure the national health and environmental impacts of any diet. It is customised across 13 food groups, and built on bespoke datasets and analysis for 147 countries. The Calculator will support policymakers in designing more ambitious National Dietary Guidelines (NDGs) and incorporating dietary transition into other policy frameworks, in line with global health, climate and environmental targets. 

In addition to the report and the Impact & Action calculator, the Planet-Based Diets platform will provide open source data for 147 countries on the dietary-related impacts of eight human and environmental health indicators; as well as policy recommendations and a collection of deep dives on five strategic actions needed to move away from a global food system which exploits the planet to one which restores it for people and nature.

Notes to Editors
See full report, Bending the Curve: The Restorative Power of Planet-Based Diets, on the Planet-Based diets platform
Planet-Based Diets Impact & Action calculator can be accessed here
Website with open source data for 147 countries can be accessed here

WWF is holding a webinar on Tuesday, 13 October at 2:30pm CET on the new country-level healthy and sustainable diets action tool. Registration here.

Edel Shanahan
Communications Officer, Biodiversity & Agriculture
+ 32 484 49 35 15

For questions on deforestation and forest degradation:
Anke Schulmeister - Oldenhove
Senior Forest Policy Officer
+32 485 84 31 44
WWF Planet-Based Diets approach
WWF Planet-Based Diets approach