Sustainable food systems: Propose candidates for the 2021 Nordic Council Environment Prize

09.02.21 | News
Tema miljöpriset fællesspisning Absalon
Maria Albrechtsen Mortensen / Scanpix
The theme of the 2021 Nordic Council Environment Prize is sustainable food systems, and you can now propose candidates for the prize. The prize of DKK 300,000 will be awarded to someone in the Nordic Region who has done something special to contribute to the development of sustainable food systems.

The Nordic Council Environment Prize has been awarded since 1995. The theme of the prize varies from year to year. In 2021, the theme is sustainable food systems – from sea and soil to table, and back again.

Several of the global sustainable development goals are linked to the food system. A transformation is necessary so that the food we eat is both produced and consumed in a way that’s sustainable. Chair of the prize committee Lars Hindkjær says:

“Over the years, the Environment Prize has focused on current challenges. Although we have previously had nominees and winners from the field of food, we’re excited to find out about all the ambitious initiatives underway in the Nordic Region that can contribute to the crucial development of sustainable food systems.”


Theme for 2021: Sustainable food systems – from sea and soil to table, and back again.

We all have to eat to live, which is why it’s important that our food systems function in a way that’s ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable. Sustainability extends from primary production through to our plates – i.e. from sea and soil to table – and then on to recycling everything from organic waste to packaging. The theme of the 2021 Nordic Council Environment Prize includes sub-components of or a complete sustainable food system.

For food production to be sustainable, food should be produced locally using ecologically sustainable methods as far as possible. In agriculture, emphasis should be placed on recycled plant nutrition and environmentally friendly agricultural methods that take into account greenhouse emissions and carbon sequestration, biodiversity, and the sound management of water resources. Animal husbandry and fish farming must take responsibility for the environment and follow high ethical standards when it comes to animal welfare. Natural resources used for food – such as game, wild fish, and other natural products – should be used wisely.

When raw materials are processed into food products, the nutritional values should be retained as much as possible. There should be no wastage of resources in the food industry, with products packed in an energy-efficient manner, minimising the environmental impact of distribution. Companies and shops should offer customers sustainable alternatives in addition to minimising food waste through their own measures. Consumers’ diets should be based on ecologically sustainable alternatives such as seasonal and vegetarian food. We should eat only the calories we need, wasting nothing, and recycling any organic waste.

SDG 2 for Agenda 2030 is to eradicate hunger. The goal is to safeguard food supplies, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. Sustainable food systems help us to reach this goal. A sustainable food system also makes it possible to support other sustainable development goals, including responsible consumption and production (12), climate action (13), life below water (14), and life on land (15).

Global production chains can be hard hit in times of crisis as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown. More than two billion people are at least partially dependent on imported food, which is why regional and national sustainable food systems are key to social resilience. Food production needs to have a positive or neutral impact on the climate and environment goals in order to achieve true sustainability.

Deadline 12 May – anyone can propose a candidate!

Anyone can propose candidates for the prize. The deadline for proposals is Wednesday 12 May. The candidate can be a Nordic company, organisation, or individual who is active in the Nordic Region and/or affiliated with partners outside the region. The candidate’s initiative must have a Nordic perspective.

The winner will be announced in Copenhagen on 2 November 2021 during the Session of the Nordic Council in Denmark.