Please login or create an account to join the discussion.

A Sustainability Compass for food policy navigation

Image: dima_goroziya, Compass hand travel, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence

This paper proposes a “Sustainability Compass” that uses a hierarchical approach to define sustainability scores for four aspects of food systems: health, environment, economy and equity. The framework is designed to evaluate food policies, including by drawing attention to trade-offs and synergies across different goals. The paper suggests that the Compass can be used during agenda setting, policy formulation, decision-making and policy evaluation.

The figure below illustrates the Sustainability Compass.


Image: Figure 2, Hebinck et al. The Sustainability Compass.

Read an overview of the paper by the lead author here.



Growing acknowledgement that food systems require transformation, demands comprehensive sustainability assessments that can support decision-making and sustainability governance. To do so, assessment frameworks must be able to make trade-offs and synergies visible and allow for inclusive negotiation on food system outcomes relevant to diverse food system actors. This paper reviews literature and frameworks and builds on stakeholder input to present a Sustainability Compass made up of a comprehensive set of metrics for food system assessments. The Compass defines sustainability scores for four societal goals, underpinned by areas of concern. We demonstrate proof of concept of the operationalisation of the approach and its metrics. The Sustainability Compass is able to generate comprehensive food system insights that enables reflexive evaluation and multi-actor negotiation for policy making.



Hebinck, A., Zurek, M., Achterbosch, T., Forkman, B., Kuijsten, A., Kuiper, M., Nørrung, B., van’t Veer, P. and Leip, A., 2021. A sustainability compass for policy navigation to sustainable food systems. Global Food Security, p.100546.


Read the full paper here. See also the TABLE explainer What can be done to shift eating patterns in healthier, more sustainable directions?

Post a new comment »

Login or register to comment with your personal account. Anonymous comments require approval to be visible.