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Which Country is the Most Sustainable?

The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) Foundation and The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) created The Food Sustainability Index (FSI), which ranks countries on food system sustainability based on three pillars: food loss and waste, sustainable agriculture, and nutritional challenges.

The index analyzes the 20 countries in the G20, which maintain the largest economies and contain two-thirds of the global population, as well as five nations from regions otherwise unrepresented, using 58 different indicators to measure sustainability.

The FSI ranks France as the top performer in nutritional challenges, and the country's "truly holistic framework for eliminating food waste" earned its rank as the top country for tackling food waste. 

With a multitude of food-related startups, San Francisco was also praised for its food waste efforts. However, while there are growing food policy reform efforts, the U.S. overall is the third worst-performing country for food waste. Finally, because of the double challenge of malnutrition paired with obesity, India ranked at the bottom of the overall index.

"A food system does not sit in isolation, and a large number of stakeholders act together according to dynamics created by specific drivers," the researchers say. When scaling to the regional, national, continental, and global level, this becomes increasingly complex.

Released in 2016, the FSI aims to encourage policymakers to place food and its production issues as high-priority items in their policy agendas. BCFN has since released two Food Sustainability Reports: “Climate Change and Famine: Issues at the Heart of International Awareness,” which focused on climate change, food security, and food safety; and “Environmental, Food and Migration Sustainability: Three Challenges To Overcome Together,” raising awareness about crucial issues surrounding food and sustainability. Both reports were a joint effort between BCFN and the Milan Center for Food Law and Policy.

According to the FSI, The world population is projected to reach 8.1 billion by 2025. Ninety-five percent of this growth will come from developing countries, many of which are dealing with the double burden of hunger and rising obesity. Meanwhile, climate change is presenting new challenges to the agriculture sector. By highlighting performance of different countries and identifying best practices, the index establishes a comparable benchmark for leaders around the world to reference and measure their progress in establishing a sustainable food system.

The FSI is publicly available. Data can be accessed in the form of a map or a country ranking, and the full dataset can be downloaded. Through this approach, the FSI can serve as a tool for policymakers and experts to take action, students to be educated, and the public to adjust their behavior for the well-being of our health and our planet.

“The objectives
 of the FSI are not only to highlight the performance of countries, but to establish a comparable benchmark, to offer examples of best practices at the national and city levels, and to measure progress over time,” say the researchers.

Click here to learn more about how the Food Sustainability Index is fostering a global shift towards a more sustainable food system.