Environmental sustainability assessment of a land based Icelandic food system- A case study from a planetary perspective.

Main Presenter: Sankalp Shrivastava 

Co-Authors: Ólafur Ögmundarson María Guðjónsdóttir

We share a unique relationship with the world through the food we consume; our diets are the closest relationship we have with the natural world and perhaps the most important one as it directly affects our health and wellbeing. This relationship is also one of the leading sources of environmental impact, about 30 % of all greenhouse gasses (GHGs), 40% of global land use, and 70% of the freshwater use can be attributed to the global food systems, thereby endangering the stability of the earth system as a whole. Lamb, beef and dairy are an essential part of diets in Iceland and have a vital cultural significance. However, the environmental impact of the land-based Icelandic food system is not well documented; there have been no metadata studies that capture national environmental impacts. This leads to gaps in addressing the overall sustainability of diets. Thus, to fill this gap, a metadata analysis was conducted using environmental life cycle assessment on lamb, beef and dairy in Iceland and evaluate the impact from the planetary boundaries’ perspective. This provides information on hotspots from a national perspective in these food systems. In addition, the national pressure of these food systems was determined on four planetary boundaries, i.e. climate change, land-use change, biogeochemical flows of nitrogen and phosphorus, and freshwater use. The result provides a snapshot of the Icelandic food system and enables a more detailed evaluation of areas that contribute most to planetary boundaries.

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