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Press release

Announcing a SEK 20 million donation to fund a new professorship with a focus on sustainable food

Supporting efforts to reshape the global food system in a sustainable direction, short and long term – that is the mission of the Curt Bergfors Foundation. Now, the foundation has decided to fund an independent professorship with the same focus, at Stockholm University.  

Even before the coronavirus outbreak, it was indisputable that large parts of the global food system are not sustainable, nor safe – with severe effects on human health as well as nature, climate, and the economy.

 One-third of the world’s population suffers from malnutrition; close to one billion are chronically hungry, and over two billion are obese or overweight. Global food production is the main driver of biodiversity loss; it is responsible for close to a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and it pollutes soils, freshwater, and marine habitats.

 Altogether, this puts heavy pressure on ecological systems, and the relationship is complicated – as reflected in the current COVID-19 pandemic, which most likely started in a «wet» food market in Wuhan. Infections transmitted from animals to humans are becoming increasingly common due to insufficient food safety, combined with deforestation, drought, and floods that drive wildlife out of their natural habitats and closer to humans. This represents major risks – for us humans. For ecosystems and the planet at large, the threats from our food system are many and complex, not least the role of food in climate change – from primary production to food waste.

“The food planet is broken,” says Curt Bergfors. «We all have to help try to get it right again.»

The Curt Bergfors Foundation was founded in 2019 to support the transition to resilient food systems that protect both people and the environment – and can be up and running in the next ten years. This requires improved knowledge and innovative solutions to find new ways to produce, distribute – and consume – food.

To ensure free and independent research in the field, the foundation has decided to fund a new professorship at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University: «The Curt Bergfors professorship in sustainability science with a focus on sustainable food systems». The funding over ten years corresponds to a donation of SEK 20 million.

«This long-term investment makes it possible to develop a scientific understanding of how food systems can contribute to positive change for both humans and the planet,» says Henrik Österblom, science director at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. The professorship is announced immediately.

The foundation has also established a new international award in the food area – the Food Planet Prize. It aims to identify and reward initiatives and projects that can quickly contribute to reshape the food system all around the world. Two prizes of $ 1 million each are awarded annually, starting in 2020. One prize will go to an existing solution that can be scaled quickly for a global impact. The second prize will go to a radically innovative project that can sustainably transform parts of or the entire food system. The nomination process is currently open.

“We will not be able to meet the Food Planet Challenge without innovation, but it also requires will-power, accountability, and determination,” says Curt Bergfors.

The foundation is capitalized with half a billion SEK from Curt Bergfors’ private assets. It will continuously take new initiatives to actively contribute to resilient food sourcing and a responsible food culture.

    Contact:

    Lars Peder Hedberg,
    Executive Board Director, spokesperson for the Curt Bergfors Foundation
    lars.p.hedberg@foodplanetprize.org
    +46 709 7559910

    Watch movie about the professorship: https://youtu.be/iDRIO_yBCI0