By 2050, an estimated 80% of all food will be destined for our global cities. To understand how we can make the food systems of our cities sustainable, resilient, and diverse our guest today is Emma Chow – the Project Lead for the Food Initiative at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was launched in 2010 to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. In 2019, they launched a food initiative focused on convening food brands, producers, retailers, governments, innovators, and waste managers to redesign the food system serving cities to:

London, São Paulo and NYC have signed on as flagship cities to show what is possible. Join us in a wide-ranging conversation as we discuss the role of cities as power nodes in the food system as well as a circular vision for the future and the practical next steps for getting there. Whether you are a citizen, entrepreneur, policymaker, or researcher, there are clear actions for you!

I was on 6 different food production farms throughout Europe, which was my chance to get hands-on with the food system. It was a total “aha moment” on how broken our food system is as well as the questions that need to be answered to fix it.

4:35 What is your role at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and what does the foundation do?
Circular economy is a framework of three principles 1) designing out waste and pollution 3) keeping materials and products in use at their highest values as long as possible 3) regenerating natural systems. We’re creating an evidence-based vision of what a circular food system in cities can be.
6:53 What is the vision you have for what the food system will look like in 10-15 years?
We can step back and say the entire food system is healthy and fit to function long term. Right now, we’re in a system that has negative impact on human health, natural environmental systems, and the economy. We can fundamentally redesign the system so that just the act of eating has a net positive impact.
8:40 What are the main challenges you see?
With food you can’t create a universal blueprint, its limited by landscape, culture, and identity.
Cities are engines to drive healthy food systems.
11:30 How do you act as a platform for gathering diverse stakeholders?
We’re demonstrating on the ground solutions in London, Sao Paolo, and New York City to create platforms for collaboration as well as be an inspiration for what can be done.
14:15 Is circular the vision that most cities are willing to adopt or is there a debate around that being the right path?
The vision overall is for a healthy food system that helps to tackle climate change and build biodiversity instead of significantly contributing to greenhouse gasses and the destruction of habitats.
16:15 How do you apply the 3 principles of the circular economy to the food initiative?
Cities can trigger food system transformation.
Food is designed. Food AND its environment is designed.
20:45 Who is leading the charge when it comes to designing a future food city?
Right now, there are solutions out there but they are largely fragmented. What’s missing is the digital capability to see the big, interconnected vision at scale.
23:30 What kind of dashboard is available for cities to keep track of all this data?
There aren’t any cities out there who really know their food flows including what types are coming in, where food is coming from, and how is it grown.
24:38 Systems change is a relatively new science, what do we know about systems change and what questions do we need researchers to be asking?
Who do we need to convene? Who are the power nodes in the system who are capable of catalyzing change and putting pressure on the other systems players to get them to change?
27:18 When it comes to looking at new technologies, policies, and visions, how do we implement solutions that put people and planet first while keeping the interdependencies in mind?
Underlying everything is mindset.
Pioneers are people and organizations willing to think in a totally new way, to
29:45 What kind of actions would you like to see happen with citizens, policymakers, and entrepreneurs.
It’s a huge challenge to get information to flow throughout the supply chain.
38:30 In your opinion, is it only possible to create this transition if we use technologies like CRISP, IoT, AI, etc?
39:50 What do you see happening in the Nordic cities?
42:46 Do you have any wishes around collaborations you are seeking?
Retailers!
44:30  What’s the best way for someone to get in touch?
45:30 Is there anything else you think we should know that i haven’t asked?
Who Ellen MacArthur is!