Olivier De Schutter

Co-chair of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems

Food Planet Prize Jury Member Olivier De Schutter is a Professor of Law at the University of Louvain. Appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights in 2020, he also co-chairs the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food). Professor De Schutter previously served as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food from 2008 to 2014 and as a Member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights from 2015 to 2020.


Q: What do you see as the most pressing issue(s) in reshaping the global food system?

Considerable efforts have been put into balancing efficiency gains and negative environmental, sanitary and economic externalities of industrial food production. Experts have proposed increased specialization, economies of scale and a range of technological solutions to manage that equation. In contrast, too little attention has been paid to the structural causes of our inability to change. We should now prioritize reaping the full potential of social innovations and democratize food policies.


Q: What would you like to achieve by being a member of the Food Planet Prize Jury?

The single most important limiting factor in our ability to reform food systems towards greater sustainability and health is imagination. We need to favor experimentation, learn from what works and make the most promising innovations visible. This is what I hope to contribute to as a Member of the Food Planet Prize Jury.


Q: What unique experiences or knowledge do you bring to the jury?

As a former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, and current co-chair of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, I continue to be impressed by the diversity of approaches towards improving food systems. However, most scientific publications address challenges facing temperate regions and rich countries. The wealth of innovative practices in tropical regions and dry areas deserve greater recognition and visibility. Being an expert in this area is not about teaching; it’s about learning.

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