This workshop highlighted the key food security issues likely to influence policy development, and explored how these relate to emissions reduction objectives. The question of how we achieve the right balance between food security and climate change mitigation is a key policy challenge for Scotland, and indeed for societies across the world.

The workshop concluded that:

  • Solutions for balancing the global needs for both food security and climate change mitigation lie in better land use planning, reducing waste and changing diets.
  • Better insight is needed into how best to effect social and behavioural change related to food production and consumption.
  • Nutrition security remains key to public health and should be a condition for any policies impacting on food supply and consumption, including climate change mitigation actions.
  • Relating food security and climate change mitigation is a high level policy activity. Different government policy areas should work more closely together to achieve wide reaching, integrated solutions.

Four leading experts introduced the key issues.  Prof Tim Benton, University of Leeds described the drivers of future food supply and demand, and the trade-offs involved in trying to meet our different objectives for the food system. Prof Pete Smith, Science Director of ClimateXChange, University of Aberdeen highlighted some ways of co-delivering food security and climate change mitigation and noted that demand side options are under-developed. Prof Richard Tiffin, University of Reading outlined key food price trends and discussed the impact of these on the UK, particularly on poorer households. Prof Paul Haggarty, Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health stressed that a healthy diet can hit both health and climate objectives. 

Several themes emerged from participants’ discussions, notably around:

  • behaviour change;
  • the potentially differential health impacts of food insecurity;
  • waste avoidance; and
  • agreement on the need to bring diverse policy areas together and to work better across traditional policy boundaries on this complex issue.