UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


Sustainable & Healthy Food Systems (SHEFS)

The primary purpose of SHEFS is to provide new, interdisciplinary research that policymakers can use to shape food systems that will deliver healthy, accessible, affordable and sustainable food

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10 June 2021

Key Facts

  • Funding body: Wellcome Trust
  • ​​​​​​Collaborators: The project is a multi-partner research consortium led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in partnership with the University of KwaZulu Natal; the University College London; the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS); the Centre for Food Policy at City, the University of London; the Food Foundation; the University of Aberdeen; the Royal Veterinary College; and the Centre for Chronic Disease Control in India
  • Total project value: £5 million GBP
  • Duration: 2017-2022


The primary aim of the Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems (SHEFS) project is to provide policy makers with novel, interdisciplinary research evidence to shape future food systems policies that deliver nutritious and healthy foods in a sustainable and equitable manner.

Overarching research questions of the SHEFS programme are:

  •  What components of the interactions between environment, food systems and health are critical for achieving sustainable and equitable health outcomes, and what sectoral and inter-sectoral policy options are most able to deliver healthy food systems in the face of future environmental and demographic change?
  • How can evidence-based policies be co-developed with stakeholders to improve access to sustainable and healthy diets for all?

The programme is made up of two linked research components:

Data gathering, analysis and scenario modelling: Using a variety of statistical, analytical and experimental methods to identify key interactions at global, regional and national levels, including collecting new, integrated data from diverse sites in India and South Africa. Analysis of local evidence, informed by work with secondary data, will enable a granular understanding of the local realities of the food system-environment-health nexus.

Policy design and evaluation: SHEFS will characterise the policy context in which food systems operate in low- and middle-income country settings, and identify food system policy options with the potential to improve population health and reduce environmental impacts. The project also focuses on how to best engage with decision-makers and other stakeholders in order to co-develop policies for sustainable and healthy diets for all.
The study cultivates a comprehensive understanding of the links between the environment, food systems and public health, and the policy environments in which those structures are at work. This allows SHEFS to develop policy options and assess their viability in the existing policy environments, before ultimately ensuring policy uptake.

Visit the SHEFS website

UCL Researchers

SHEFS is a global research programme funded by the Wellcome Trust (running from 2017 to 2022) with three country case study sites: the United Kingdom, South Africa and India. The project is a multi-partner research consortium led by:


The UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources team has worked on the environmental sustainability of food production and trade in South Africa, India and at the global scale, covering notably greenhouse emissions, the sustainability of water resources use and impacts on biodiversity.

The SHEFS project has produced a range of scientific publications and other outputs on sustainable and healthy food systems, available at https://shefsglobal.lshtm.ac.uk/publications/