TMG Think Tank for Sustainability

True Cost Accounting as a Policy Tool

Supporting sustainable and healthy food consumption

Our food plates are the products of a vast and complex food system with far-reaching implications. What we eat is a political act that determines: how natural resources are managed and used; how livestock is reared and crops are grown; how many, and which types of inputs are used; how much processing occurs; how fairly producers are paid and treated; how healthy and nutritious our diets are; how far food travels; and how much waste is created along the way.

What we eat is also driven and influenced by a variety of factors, including a wide range of supply- and demand-side policy measures and interventions (i.e. administrative, market-based, information-based, and behavioural policies).

For the most part, these policies are derived from partial information that neglects the significant impacts of consumer behaviour and food choices on the environment, livelihoods, and human health. A more holistic, integrated, and systems-based approach is needed for (re)designing food policies that support more sustainable and healthy diets and takes into account the true costs of food plates.

True Cost Accounting seeks to respond to this call by assessing the economic, ecological and social costs and benefits of food systems in order to raise awareness and provide more accurate and reliable data to policymakers.

Executed by TMG GmbH, this consultancy provides support to the International Climate Initiative (IKI) project, Establishing Sustainable Consumption and Production – a South-South Transfer coordinated by WWF Germany. It seeks to answer the core question: How can True Cost Accounting be used as a policy tool to support the design of consumer policies that successfully incentivise sustainable and healthy food consumption?

The findings will feed into relevant global policy processes, including the forthcoming UN World Food Systems Summit 2021, and the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

Project Name
True Cost Accounting as a Policy Tool

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TMG Think Tank for Sustainability consists of TMG Research gGmbH, an independent, non-partisan, non-for-profit organization registered in Berlin (District Court Charlottenburg, HRB 186018 B, USt.-ID: DE311653675) and TMG - Töpfer, Müller, Gaßner GmbH, a private company registered in Berlin (District Court Charlottenburg, HRB 177576 B USt.-ID: DE306832549).

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