On November 8, UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) attendees including national-level stakeholders and civil society groups gathered at the Ubiquitous Chip restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland for Eat4Change, a dinner to celebrate the power of food to transform people and planet. The event was emceed by Food Tank President Danielle Nierenberg and co-organized by WWF ‘s Global Action Platform on Sustainable Consumption and Diets, which is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI), in partnership with Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), The Rockefeller Foundation, EAT , Global Alliance for the Future of Food, One Earth, Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU), WWF’s Eat4Change EU DEAR Program and Nourish Scotland.
Eat4Change aimed to break silos to form new, meaningful connections across food systems stakeholders and work together to raise the agenda of food in multilateral process.
“What’s so powerful about food systems change is one intervention can unlock exponential progress across a whole range of ambitions,” says Oliver Camp, Senior Associate of Innovation at GAIN.
Camp says the work between GAIN and WWF, which formed a partnership this year focused on improving food systems, exemplifies the convergence of climate and nutrition issues linked to the food systems. Through the partnership, the organizations are sharing knowledge, amplifying advocacy and communications, and guiding each other on incorporating environmental and nutrition considerations into their respective programs.
Ultimately, Camp sees broader opportunities in breaking down silos: “By co-designing programs with benefits across human and planetary health, nature, and nutrition, we can find those win-win, double-duty actions. Actually, make that triple-duty: there’s a huge livelihoods element, too, which also unites us in our approach to our work.”
Stella Höynälänmaa, Food Program Director at WWF Finland, adds that “joining forces of organizations that work on environmental, nutrition, production, and social aspects of the food system can not only amplify positive impact but also ensure we understand the trade-offs of action.”
The Eat4Change menu focused on sourcing local, sustainably produced foods and using every part of each ingredient to minimize food waste. Courses included Jerusalem artichoke and whole-roast cauliflower from Caldwell’s Farm in Girvan, Ayrshire, including cauliflower leaves fried in spiced chickpea batter.
To begin each course, young leaders posed questions for attendees to spark conversation, such as, “how will we make eating sustainably the easiest choice for everyone, particularly youth?” and “do we need to talk more about empty calories in the debate about a sustainable food system?”
“I think young people, particularly through Act4Food Act4Change, have done a fantastic job in painting a picture of the future they want and highlighting the elements of the current system that they simply won’t accept…Policymakers, businesses, and certainly civil society are hearing them loud and clear,” says Camp.
Act4Food Act4Change is a global youth-led movement working to promote action to combat hunger, improve health, and heal the planet. The campaign focuses on a simple pledge and list of actions.
“Young people have two main roles in the transformation: to inspire their peers and parents on what a sustainable diet is and to demand a transformation of the system from the companies and policymakers,” says Lova Eveborn, an Eat4Change youth team member.
According to Höynälänmaa, global leaders need to make more decisions now to support these young leaders. “They have such an important role. But I hope this is the last generation who are genuinely worried for their future and pushing for the change that is needed because they don’t see decision-makers taking the necessary action.”
Eveborn says that the high attendance from civil society, Indigenous people, and youth at COP26 are reasons for hope, but there’s more work to be done: “they could be given better influence on the formal negotiations.”