The Global Action Platform on Sustainable Consumption and Diets, led by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), is working to elevate the link between consumption and sustainability.
“Despite the fact that we are starting to wake up to the fact that food is so important, it’s still not being discussed at the highest levels,” Brent Loken Global Food Lead Scientist for WWF tells Food Tank. “We give a nod to it, maybe, but it’s still not front and center.”
Loken explains that the platform is intended to help break silos, bring together key stakeholders, and influence agendas at key conferences taking place in 2021 and 2022. These meetings include the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26), the U.N. Biodiversity Conference (COP15), and the Nutrition for Growth Summit.
Members of the Action Platform hope to illustrate the relationship between food systems, nutrition, and the environment. “Even if we implement the most innovative, regenerative, agricultural practices, if we don’t shift consumption patterns, we will drive land use change,” Loken says. “We will still drive greenhouse gas emissions. We will still drive biodiversity loss.”
According to Stineke Oenema, Executive Secretary of UN Nutrition, food is also a perfect entry point for change. “It’s all about the system, but it’s all about people as well, about consumers and consumption. So if we find a way to facilitate and stimulate people to eat healthier…we can have an action that is positive for our health and an action that is positive for our…environment,” she tells Food Tank.
Federico Bellone, Lead in Regenerative Food Systems and Nature Based Solutions for the COP26 High Level Champions believes that food is particularly powerful for this reason. “One of the reasons I like working on food is that all of us eat,” Bellone tells Food Tank. He continues, “What I find very compelling about that is you have a choice. I have a choice. I’m working a lot on climate and…a lot of people feel like there’s not much that they [personally] can do.”
Bellone stresses that the onus does not lie entirely on the individual and he acknowledges that there are barriers that prevent equal access to healthy foods. But, he says, many eaters can play a direct role in the solution by making deliberate choices about the foods they consume.
Even as experts push for healthy diets, they argue there is no such thing as a universal solution. “It’s so important to look at the context,” Oenema says. She explains that in some areas, for example, it is beneficial for eaters to curb their consumption of red meat. In other areas, however, it may be recommended to consume more animal proteins.
And while strategies may differ across regions and continents, Loken and others argue that nothing will change unless there is collaboration among sectors. “The only way we’re going to be able to tackle this is really for us to come together.”
Watch the full conversation with Brent Loken, Stineke Oenema, and Federico Bellone below:
Photo courtesy of Nikhita Singhal, Unsplash