Leaving logos and egos behind

Leaving logos and egos behind

June 14, 2018

Leaving logos and egos behind

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development compels us to tackle food security, nutrition and agriculture in unison. This will help unlock progress across all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A tool to highlight how food relates to the SDGs, the Food Sustainability Index, developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit with the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation, ranks 34 countries according to their food system sustainability, including a variety of indicators at the intersection of agriculture, food and health.

Separating the topics of agriculture, food and health must become a thing of the past. It’s time to set off alarm bells: decision-makers everywhere must wake up to the fact that current food systems— globally and locally — are not working, as they fail to deliver healthy food to a third of the world’s women, men and children, who suffer from one or more forms of malnutrition.

World hunger is yet again on the rise, although nutrition and food security are increasingly recognised as makers and markers of sustainable development; they are crucial determinants of human capital and, therefore, economic prosperity. Much of the recent increase in food insecurity can be traced back to more and more conflicts, often exacerbated by climate-related shocks. And, although countries are striving to keep these issues high on their agenda, approximately 3bn people have low-quality diets, causing the paradoxical coexistence of devastating undernutrition and obesity, as well as a vast range of health problems that come with these conditions.


image

Repositioning food systems 

There’s only one way to combat this: food systems need to be repositioned. Merely delivering sufficient calories will no longer do. Food systems shouldn’t just supply food, they must provide high-quality diets for all. This requires new policies that do not only encompass trade, the environment and health, but also harness the private sector to redesign their business case and support consumers in their plight for, and access to, better diets. A tall order indeed.

That’s where incentives to promote confidence in companies to take the necessary actions and risks entailed in investing in nutritious food come in. To ensure the wider business community becomes part of the solution—rather than a barrier—critical dialogue aimed at collaboration is needed. We can all play a role in encouraging sustainably produced, processed, transported and disposed food, while discouraging the production and consumption of unhealthy food with a heavy environmental footprint.

Building partnerships

Although the 2030 Agenda provides us with an ambitious framework with strong political traction, on its own it is not enough. After all, a policy or plan only is what it does. People, regardless of their position or sector, must be willing to build coalitions and partnerships—between cities, countries, development actors, together with the private sector—to identify and act on sustainable solutions. Indeed, a paradigm shift in country-to-country, South-South and triangular co-operation is needed. Although no country has solved the food, sustainability and malnutrition puzzle yet, countries have tried and tested different solutions that others can learn from. For example, many high-income countries have battled with overweight, obesity and non-communicable diseases for decades, while these are relatively new in many low- and middle-income countries. Conversely, many low- and middle-income countries have successfully promoted exclusive breastfeeding, such as Rwanda, Sri Lanka and Zambia, and prevented micronutrient deficiencies, which high-income countries can learn from.

All stakeholders need to come to grips with the “new normal” of dealing with food systems that serve people and planet alike. New partnerships driven by governments in the spirit of SDG 17—based on country ownership, mutual respect, integrity, transparency and grounded in multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approaches—is what we need in order to comprehensively tackle malnutrition in all its forms.


Only by embracing new ways of working, breaking down silos, being able to walk a mile in one another’s shoes and leaving our logos and egos behind can we drive Agenda 2030 home, leaving no one behind.


This article was originally published on foodsustainability.eiu.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Since August 2016 Gerda Verburg has served as the co-ordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement. She was appointed by the UN secretary-general based on her extensive experience in politics and international co-operation. In 2008, following her appointment as minister of agriculture, nature and food quality of the Netherlands, she was elected as chair of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. From 2011 she served as the permanent representative of the Netherlands to the Rome-based UN agencies (the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development). In 2013 she was elected chair of the UN Committee on World Food Security, and in 2014 she was appointed chair of the Agenda Council for Food and Nutrition of the World Economic Forum.


Learn more about similar topics:

Find out more about Food and sustainability

This website uses profiling cookies, including third-party ones, to send you advertising and offer you services which reflect the preferences you have shown during browsing. If you continue to browse the website by accessing any area or selecting any element of it (such as an image or a link), you consent to use of cookies.
Click on the following link to view our extended cookie policy, which provides a description of the categories present and the links with the personal data policies of the third-party processors. You can also decide which cookies to authorise or whether to deny consent for all or only certain cookies.   Continues