In the race to feed a global population projected to reach ten billion by 2050 amid conflicts and climate challenges, scientists at EPFL are pioneering sustainable solutions. With 10% of the current world population facing hunger and 30% malnourished, achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 2 of zero hunger demands innovative strategies. EPFL’s experts emphasize a return to farm-to-table models, recognizing the flaws in intensive farming that exacerbate hunger and harm biodiversity.
EPFL researchers, including Sara Bonetti from the Laboratory of Catchment Hydrology and Geomorphology, stress the impact of agriculture on carbon emissions and advocate for traditional farming methods that capture and store carbon in the soil while boosting yields. EPFL’s Integrative Food and Nutrition Center and participation in the Agropôle technology park reflect Switzerland’s commitment to sustainable agriculture.
Technology emerges as a vital ally, with interdisciplinary collaborations addressing the entire food production chain, from seed selection to processing. Novel approaches include gene editing, urban rooftop farming, and the integration of robots. In Switzerland and beyond, initiatives bridging scientists and farmers aim to test and implement cutting-edge technologies.
However, sustainable diets are equally critical, with the FAO highlighting the imbalance between hunger and excessive meat consumption, contributing to a large carbon footprint. EPFL’s pilot test, conducted in local restaurants, exemplifies efforts to reduce food waste, a significant contributor to the one-third of globally produced food discarded.
While the FAO remains hopeful that addressing these challenges is possible, it stresses the need for concerted efforts, scientific research, dialogue, and collaboration. The path to 2050’s sustainable food supply requires overcoming obstacles in business interests, policymaking, and farmer resistance through a shared commitment to exploring all options and ensuring the well-being of billions.