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2019 EAT Stockholm Food Forum: The Science is Clear

  |   SUN Country Network, SUN Lead Group and Secretariat

More than 1000 people from across the globe working in the areas of food, agriculture and nutrition gathered in Stockholm, Sweden in mid-June to respond to the urgent call for action on food systems transformation. Participants came together to attend the 2019 EAT Stockholm Food Forum and to answer – can we feed a future population of 10 billion people a healthy diet within planetary boundaries?   This was the question posed by the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health which was launched in early 2019 and which provided the first scientific targets for how to get it right on food, for both people and planet

The tone for this years event was set by Dr Gunhild Stordalen, Founder and Executive Chair, EAT and SUN Movement Lead Group Member, who in her opening speech stated:  “This year, we have never been in a better position to join forces and scale up efforts. We now have the first scientific targets for how to get it right on food, for both people and planet. That means, we can finally start to align actions, not based on trends, or ideologies or whatever that most likely will gain consensus but based on the best available evidence”.

Watch Dr Stordalen’s opening statement below or read the full version here.

This urgency and call for drastic action continued throughout the two days of plenary and side events. Across all events, participants agreed that action must happen, that this action must be bold and that there is no longer time for delay or excuses. The health of people and planet rely on us taking action now.

We are ready to push play

“The EAT hashtag has been #foodcanfixit, but at the end of the day, food won’t fix anything – unless WE come together to #fixfood!” Dr Gunhild Stordalen

Dr Kiran Rupakhetee, Division Chief & Joint Secretary, Good Governance and Social Development Division & SUN Government Focal Point, Government of Nepal joined a keynote panel Pushing Boundaries: Are we ready to push play? Highlighting how good governance can create real, lasting change and how SUN Movement focal points have the capacity to drive lasting change at country level.

The panel, moderated by Erthatrin Cousin, Chair of Nutrition at Chicago Council, provided Dr Rupakhetee with the opportunity to highlight Nepal’s multi-sectoral approach to change at country level and to share firsthand the opportunities, but also very real challenges, which governments face to deliver improved nutrition. Dr Rupakhetee was joined by a diverse group of panelists highlighting how a multi-sectoral approach is the only way forward: Matt Kovac Executive Director, Food Industry Asia (FIA), Nancy Roman Partnership For A healthier America, Diane Holdorf Managing Director, Food & Nature, WBCSD – World Business Council for Sustainable Development and Charlotte Salford Associate Vice President External Relations and Governance, IFAD.

“Win-win” solutions to fight malnutrition

Memani Morlai, SUN Movement Focal Point from Liberia joined a stellar line up on the Kitchen Stage to share country level experiences on planetary health and fighting malnutrition and highlight how governments can collaborate across Government Ministries to implement “win-win” solutions.

Joined by Sandro Demaio (Moderator) CEO, EAT, Marika Nomura Senior Advisor, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Boyd Swinburn Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health, University of Auckland the panelists discussed how food is both the problem and the solution. With malnutrition in all its forms responsible for more global illness than any other cause and with current food production practices pushing environmental systems beyond safe boundaries systematic shifts in production, consumption and policies must take place. The overall takeaway from the panel was that with collaborative approaches driven by individuals prepared to work across sectors and ministries, change can happen.

SUN Country experiences and stories heard throughout the Forum

Over the course of the two days, 18 SUN Movement country focal points and Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) country focal points participated in the EAT Food Forum, ensuring that country level experiences from Sri Lanka, Zambia, The Gambia, Nepal, Lesotho, Kenya and Liberia were heard. They participated in a wide range of panels and side events hosted by: Nordic Food Policy Lab & HIVOS, Global Resilience Partnership, World Wildlife Fund, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, UN Global Compact, Southern Africa Food Lab, New York Academy of Sciences and the Food and Land Use Coalition. Topics ranged from exploring a Just Transition: Lesson’s from Africa’s most mature multi-stakeholder dialogue platform, to Transforming the food environment: accelerating business action on positive nutrition as well as Fixing Flawed Incentives: How business, civil society and policy makers can contribute to transform food and land use system settings

A mini Food-Systems Dialogue

SUN and CAADP Focal Points were also invited to join a mini Food Systems Dialogue hosted by David Nabarro, Food Systems Dialogues during which stories were shared from the frontlines of nutrition and food systems transformations.  As “the noble warriors of food-systems of the future” participants reflected on how they could lead on global and regional issues from where they stand to bring about change at country level and to draw upon synergies in the agricultural, nutrition and health space – especially within the often challenging, and constantly changing, environments in which they work.

Nutrition is the smart investment

Building on the momentum of the EAT call to action and the global recognition that urgent, drastic change is required, Gerda Verburg, UN Assistant Secretary General and Coordinator, Scaling up Nutrition Movement called for bold action in a blog published by IFPRI. Ms Verburg: “Nutrition is the smart investment because good nutrition is good for all. And that now is the time for change and for bold, ambitious action. Read the complete call to action from Ms. Verburg here.

What will you do now?

In the closing session, Johan Rockström, Director, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and Jess Fanzo, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Food Policy & Ethics and Editor-in-Chief of Global Food Security Journal, both contributing authors to the EAT Lancet Report highlighted that: “We need strong policies that will sheperd stakeholders in the right direction and asked the audience to consider: What will you do now? (click on the link to watch the closing session).

The pair compelled the audience into action highlighting that with just 11 years to achieve the world’s most ambitious development targets –the UN Sustainable Development Goals–  there is an urgent need to transform our food system to put us on a path that will support a healthy world population and planet.

For all the action from the EAT Stockholm Food Forum action SUN Movement Twitter, watch the keynote speakers deliver powerful orations on food transformations and view a great collection of image via the EAT Stockholm Food Forum Flickr Page. Media coverage from the event is also available via the following links: (The Telegraph), India (Hindustan Times), Brazil (Revista Planeta)

Image credit: EAT Foundation

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