- Professor Timothy Lang (Principal Investigator)
Policy Research by Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City, University of London’s Centre for Food Policy, has shaped recognition that food consumption, not just production, is a challenge for humanity.
Food is one of the major sources of impact on public health, ecosystems, jobs and the economy, as well as social justice and culture. Professor Lang’s work on ‘sustainable diets’ has posed the challenge to policy-makers of how to deliver sustainability through food.
His work has been picked up at the global level in the UN, has helped reshape European food policy beyond the farmgate and has informed House of Commons select committees and taken the case for sustainable diets to consumers.
What did we explore and how?
As one of 18 commissioners on the 2016-19 EAT-Lancet Commission, Professor Lang’s policy expertise helped address the question: can the planet feed its population healthily without destroying the environment?
The Commission’s answer was ‘yes’ but only by significant dietary change in the rich world, not least to allow low income countries and populations to eat better. The EAT-Lancet report was used as a basis for national and regional dialogues on Nordic food systems transformation.
For years, Lang has worked at the EU level. Most recently, the GLAMUR project highlighted how policy-makers can improve food systems by engaging with both science-based evidence and socio-cultural values. Lang also spent three years advising the European Economic and Social Committee (the EU’s civil society channel into decision-making) which fed into the 2020 EU Farm to Fork strategy as part of its Green New Deal.
Benefits and influence of this research
Lang’s policy work has direct value to beneficiaries by focussing on existing processes. He has advised UN bodies such as the World Health Organisation, the Food & Agriculture Organisation and national bodies such as parliamentary Select Committees and many other scientific and civil society organisations.
In 2015 he helped launch Milan Urban Food Policy Pact for the then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, as it was signed by over 100 cities to tackle urban food-related problems. The European Economic and Social Committee sought Professor Lang’s expertise on multi-criteria food policy and sustainable diets, to shape their food policy strategy.
In his 2020 book Feeding Britain, Lang’s critical analysis was applied to the UK. It outlined twelve problems in UK food security, before making 33 proposals for change.
The book’s findings were briefed to beneficiaries including MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee, the Shadow food and farming front bench, the Food and Drink Federation, Defra’s Chief Scientist’s team, UK horticultural and farming groups and many civil society bodies. The book has been referenced in discussions on UK food after Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Details of this research
Research status: Ongoing