International appetite for Nordic food policies

02.12.18 | News
Global Child Nutrition Forum

Mari Hassinen (World Food Programme), Maggi Brigham (Norwegian Institute for Rural and Regional Research) and Marjaana Maninnen (Finnish National Agency for Education) visit the garden that provides food for a school meal programme in Tunisia during the Global Child Nutrition Forum

Nordic Food Policy Lab

Photographer
Global Child Nutrition Forum

Mari Hassinen (World Food Programme), Maggi Brigham (Norwegian Institute for Rural and Regional Research) and Marjaana Maninnen (Finnish National Agency for Education) visit the garden that provides food for a school meal programme in Tunisia during the Global Child Nutrition Forum

International interest in Nordic know-how on how citizen-driven policies can catalyse the transformation of food systems has grown remarkably during the last year. Both governmental bodies in, for instance, Costa Rica, India and Scotland as well as agenda-setting international organisations like World Health Organization, World Food Programme, UN Environment, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization are looking to our region to learn more.

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

Anders Nordström, Ambassador for Global Health, UN Policy Department at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Sweden

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