Under the COP23 climate negotiations in Bonn in 2017, the Nordic Food Policy Lab – a flagship project under the Nordic Prime Minister’s Initiative, Nordic Solutions to Global Challenges – kickstarted conversations about food policy on the climate agenda by hosting a pop-up think tank. According to Reyes Tirado, Scientist at the Greenpeace Research Lab, “Nordic Food Day showed leadership in linking climate and food systems and providing a platform to highlight the importance of food, agriculture and livestock in the climate scenarios”.
High level discussions on food culture
The message is spreading within international networks and the 2018 calendar has quickly been filled up with opportunities to put a Nordic touch on global discussions about sustainable consumption and production.
During the UN High Level Political Forum in New York, Sweden’s Minister of the Environment hosted Serving-Up Solutions for Agenda 2030, where the role of food culture and gastronomy in changing consumption patterns was discussed. International solutionists sat around the table to discuss the power of chefs to transform society. Such ideas have been laid out in the think-piece, Harvesting Bold Solutions. Nordic solutions were also present at the United Nations General Assembly in September.
“Looking at the global landscape at the moment, we know that there is a strong need for examples that can inspire effective policy responses to our global health and climate crises. Joining forces as Nordic governments at UN General Assembly – we found that we had a stronger case to contribute with to our international partners in the discussions around sustainable food systems”, says Anders Nordström, Ambassador for Global Health, UN Policy Department at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Sweden.
Secret ingredients of collaborative approaches
Another highlight was the launch of the Solutions Menu - A Nordic guide to sustainable food policy, which has been downloaded nearly 3000 times since June 2018. For the first time ever, innovative Nordic food policy solutions were brought together in a single document.
Not only does the publication give an overview of 24 successful policy initiatives like school meals, food waste reduction schemes, gastronomic resource centres and nutrition recommendations, it also provides food for thought on collaborative approaches. It shows the ‘secret ingredients’ that have been crucial to implement concrete change, and that have guided policymakers and change-makers in their work.
“WHO applauds this approach of working with nutrition policy as well as food culture and identity as a means of simultaneously tackling non-communicable diseases and creating a shift towards more sustainable food consumption”, says João Breda, Head of the World Health Organization Europe Office for Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases
Strong backing on home turf
The Nordic Food Policy Lab helps facilitate food policy dialogues that acknowledge differences but at the same time zoom in on what can be learnt from one another in terms of dietary patterns, public health and positive environmental and climate impacts. This approach has shown to be a successful catalysator that links Nordic and international perspectives.
“We are very pleased to see what the Nordic Food Policy Lab has been able to achieve this far given its relatively modest funding. The number of high-level policy discussions, the outreach and not the least the international response and interest shows us that this is a very worthwhile priority for the Nordic food authorities”, says Harald Gjein, Administrative Director and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.
COP24 and Costa Rica coming up
In the coming weeks, Nordic Food Policy Lab will be heading to the UN Climate Summit (COP24) in Poland to put focus on how cities of the future can expedite the impactful changes to consumption patterns that are so urgently needed. Nordic Food Policy Lab will also be part of the second Global Conference on Sustainable Food Systems with global partners UN Environment and FAO in Costa Rica next year. This will provide an excellent opportunity to connect with a number of Latin American countries showing interest in the policies described in the Solutions Menu. The Solutions menu is also being translated into Spanish.
Joining forces as Nordic governments at UN General Assembly – we found that we had a stronger case to contribute with to our international partners in the discussions around sustainable food systems
Selected collaborations 2018:
Symposium on Mediterranean and New Nordic Diets
May 2018, Copenhagen, Denmark
Co-organisers: WHO European Office
UNFCCC Bonn Intersessional
May 2018, Bonn, Germany
Co-organisers: Brighter Green + Food and Climate Alliance
EAT Forum 2018
June 2018, Stockholm, Sweden
Co-organisers: EAT Foundation
Political tools to shape food identity
May 2017, Zeeland, Netherlands
Co-organisers: Zeeland regional government
World Food Programme Global Child Nutrition Forum
October 2018, Tunis, Tunisia
Co-organisers: World Food Program
Food System Approaches to the Prevention of NCDs
September 2018, New York City, USA
Co-organisers: EAT Foundation in collaboration with the Governments of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Indonesia
Nordic talks at Committee on World Food Security
October 2018, Rome, Italy
Co-organisers: UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) during CFS: one of the main international arenas for policy discussions on the food system
Serving up solutions for Agenda 2030 @ UN High Level Political Forum
July 2018, New York City, USA
Co-organisers: Swedish Ministry of Environment
Strategies for inter-ministerial and cross-sectoral collaboration for sustainable diets @ "People’s food - people’s health: Towards healthy and sustainable European Food Systems" (EU conference workshop)
November 2018, Vienna, Austria
Co-organisers: EuroHealthNet, Danish Ministry of Environment and Food, Directorate General of Health, Portugal, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, The Netherlands
Nordic inputs to Scotland’s “Good food nation bill”
June 2017 (continuation April 2019), Edinburg, Scotland
Co-organisers: Obesity Action Scotland and others