Challenge: New diet

We can’t keep our diet the way it is if we want to make sure everyone can be fed by 2050 without causing too much damage to the earth.

We are facing a range of serious threats: How are we going to make sure everyone will get the nutrients they need without doing more harm to the planet than we are doing already? How are we going to beat food-related diseases like diabetes, heart diseases and malnutrition? There is one certainty; we all have to change our diet to survive in the next 50 years. This leads to our challenge: What will be your new diet?

In 2050 more than 9 billion people will inhabit the earth. That’s an increase of more than 30% compared to the current 7 billion people. This means that there will be 2 billion more mouths to feed. The income per capita is increasing, which means that more people have more money to spend. When people have more money to spend on nutrition, they tend to eat more meat and animal based products.

Simultaneously the western society is ageing. Due this demographic change the need for protein in nutrients will increase. For example in 2040 approximately 26% of the Dutch citizens will be over 65 years old. This age group will need extra proteins, as elderly tend to suffer from malnutrition.

Most of these people will choose to live in large cities. Research has shown that 70% of people will live in urban areas by 2050 and the shift from a rural way of living to an urban way of living will predominantly have a big impact in Africa and Asia. Cities will grow fast, resulting in more so-called megacities. Megacities are cities with 5 million inhabitants or more. In 1975 there were only 3 megacities, by 2025 there will be 27 megacities. Due to the density in these megacities there is virtually no possibility of producing sufficient food for their population.

Thus the demand for animal products will increase. Unfortunately the production of meat and other animal-based products poses a severe threat for the environment. To produce one kilogram beef, we need 15.500 liters water. In the Netherlands 46% of the water footprint is caused by producing meat and other animal products. For example, the water footprint per calorie for producing beef is 20 times larger than for producing cereals. Another issue is the waste that’s involved in producing animal products. A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city with 411,000 people (1.2 times the number of inhabitants in the city of Utrecht!). Not only the animals produce a lot of waste, from farm to our fridge 1/3 of all food will be wasted. Because the cities will grow, there will be more transportation of food needed. This will harm the environment by the emission of greenhouse gasses, and use of fuels. Now imagine the increase of our world population with two billion people in the coming decades, a population with increased wealth, who want to eat meat, and other animal based products, and the challenge becomes evident.

In the long run intensive agriculture affects the soil biodiversity. The fertilizers and pesticides that are needed in the agriculture also increase the greenhouse gasses; for example the livestock industry is responsible for 65% of all nitrous oxide. Fossil fuels are also diminishing. Fossil fuel winning will peak in 2025, it will decrease shortly after. One important fossil fuel in danger is phosphate. Phosphate is used in fertilizers in the process of making animal products and the agriculture. The future scarcity of phosphate is a serious problem. For instance phosphate reserves in Europe are already stretched, as Europe only possesses 1% of the global reserves

On the other hand there are the serious health issues. We are living in an obesogenic society. Today obesity is not limited anymore to the traditional western world, but increasingly becoming a fast growing issue in fast growing economies in Asia, Africa and Southern America. Here in the Netherlands 50% of all Dutch citizens are too heavy. The current diet is one of the major contributors. We are eating more processed, high caloric food in high quantities than is effectively good for us. Obesity has significant physical and health related consequences; diabetes type 2, coronary heart disease, depression and anxiety attacks are just a few to mention. If we don’t put a halt to obesity, it will only become an even bigger issue, and not just in the Netherlands. The worldwide number of diabetes patients is expected to increase with 54% by 2030 (in the coming 15 years!) due to population growth, ageing of populations and urbanization with associated lifestyle changes. The costs of healthcare will increase as a result and threaten the quality and availability healthcare in the process.

Process information
Thursday 26 May
13:00 Keynote speaker and introduction challenge,
15:00 Workshop ideation and insect tasting,
19:00 Workshop design thinking

Friday 27 May 
13.00 Pitching the results
15.00 Workshop pitching for finalists
17.00 Final pitch and award ceremony! 

Evaluation Criteria
Most innovative, most valuable social contribution and most valuable contribution to changing the food system.

Technical information​

Expected result​
Prototypes, Solutions, Visualisations, Business models and Campaigns. 


The jury consists experts in the field of: Entrepreneurship, consultancy, design thinking, ICT developer and banking.

Download full challenge description
More information: BeBright - New Diet


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