Young Europeans call for sustainable food to be more affordable

Posted on 11 September 2023

They want to change their diets but face multiple obstacles.
Tired of political inaction and of the financial hurdles young citizens face to feed themselves, 13 European youth organisations have published a manifesto demanding the European Commission to take action and help make sustainable and healthy food the most accessible option.

Commenting on the manifesto, Giulia Riedo, Agriculture & Sustainable Food Policy Officer of the WWF European Policy Office, said: “It’s incredibly difficult for young people who do not have a strong support network or financial stability to access food that nurtures their health and protects the planet they will live on for decades to come. The current EU food system limits their choice, because sustainable consumption is just not supported through policies and marketing strategies.”

Endorsed by the Maastricht University Green Office, Fairtrade Europe, and Young European Socialists, among others, the manifesto gathers scientific evidence of the negative impacts of unsustainable food production and key insights from interviews conducted with 87 people living in Europe. Among their asks, young citizens are calling for a strong EU Sustainable Food Systems Law that leads to increased awareness, availability, and cheaper prices of sustainable food. 

The Commission’s proposal for this law - which was announced as an important component of the European Green Deal - is scheduled for 27 September, however recent media reports suggest the proposal is hanging by a thread and might not see the light of day.

“If the Commission doesn’t publish the Sustainable Food Systems Law - or publishes a text that falls short of the stated ambition -  people will continue to be forced into unhealthy and unsustainable eating. EU citizens are getting sick because of their diets. Meanwhile EU agricultural production is slashed by heat waves, droughts and floods, fueled by the way we produce and consume food - and there are still reservations about changing the food system? This is outrageous and outright self-harming,” concluded Giulia Riedo.

Last week, 160 organisations and scientists sent a letter to European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, urging the Commission to publish a proposal that can bring significant change. The EU food system is responsible for 34% of GHG emissions and is behind the unhealthy diets ending the lives of 1 in 5 Europeans.
Young people struggle to access sustainable and healthy food.
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