Design Principles for Real Food Security

The world is awash with experts, philanthropists and multinational companies talking enthusiastically about what needs to be done ‘to feed the world’ – with a weird mixture of technocratic bombast and scaremongering about needing to double levels of food production by 2030. Yet only the last couple of years has it been accepted that talking about food security in this way makes no sense at all unless one talks about the scandal of food waste – and the absolute priority of addressing that challenge first. It also makes no sense at all talking about food security in that way without going back to the basics of food production: soil, water, seeds, biodiversity, energy balances and so on.

The design principles that underpin the permaculture movement have a crucial role to play in reconnecting with those basics, reminding everyone involved in food chains around the world that you can’t get something for nothing as far as nature is concerned – or not for very long, anyway. And the central insight of permaculture – that our entire food economy is more and more ‘at risk’ if we continue to work against the dynamics of the natural world rather than work with those dynamics – should be the basis on which all projections for a ‘food secure future’ should be built.


Jonathon Porritt is an eminent writer, broadcaster and commentator on sustainable development. He co-founded Forum for the Future, the UK’s leading sustainable development charity, with over 100 partner organisations globally. He is a Director of Willmott Dixon Holdings, a Trustee of the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy, a Director of Collectively (an online platform celebrating sustainable innovation), and the Chancellor of Keele University.

Previous roles include Director of Friends of the Earth, Co-Chair of the Green Party, Chairman of UNED-UK, Chairman of Sustainability South West, Trustee of WWF UK and Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission.

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