Previous winner of the Environment Prize: Innovative ideas drive sustainable food systems

23.03.21 | News
Tidligere vinder af miljøprisen Selina Juul står mellem kasser med grøntsager

Selina Juul. Credit: Ritzau Scanpix

Photographer
Ritzau Scanpix
It is no coincidence that the theme for the Nordic Council Environment Prize 2021 is sustainable food systems. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the food chain from land and sea to table and back again accounts for around a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The Nordic food system is facing a green transformation, and the hunt is on to find people and organisations that will pioneer these efforts.

In 2013, Selina Juul won the Nordic Council Environmental Prize for her work on reducing food waste in Denmark. She believes that the prize is more important than ever and that the Nordic countries play a special role in the development of more sustainable food systems.

We cannot ignore the potential environmental impact of the food system

Juul founded the consumer movement Stop Wasting Food in 2008 and has been working on the issue ever since. Today, she is a member of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste. She believes that the focus on sustainable food systems is not only here to stay but will become increasingly central to the work of organisations and companies.

“Working to make food systems sustainable will become second nature. We are starting to take it for granted that we should eat less meat and think about food waste, for example. Some of us have been shouting about this for many years, but younger people in particular are now starting to take it to the streets. People will be increasingly astonished by and critical of companies that fail to focus on green energy, packaging, recycling and food waste. I think the consumers of the future will demand sustainable solutions from organisations, politicians and companies, including in the food sector,” she explains.

There is huge potential in more sustainable food systems, so I look forward to seeing the nominations for this year’s prize.

Selina Juul, a former winner of the Nordic Council Environment Prize

Break with habitual thinking

Anyone can submit nominations for the Environment Prize. Selina Juul has high expectations for the nominees.

“In the food system, it is clear that ‘business as usual’ is dead. Organisations and companies are now working on ‘business as unusual’, and many innovative ideas are flourishing. I think we are going to see a lot more recycling and upcycling, such as the use of coffee grounds for fertiliser,” she says.

“Foodtech is another area in which a lot is happening at the moment. In addition, surplus heat is being used for cooling, and various technologies are making it easier to integrate various stages of production. Last but not least, I also see a tendency for us to get better at using, for example, wonky cucumbers and other ugly foods used to be thrown out. A carrot tastes good even if it isn’t straight. There is huge potential in more sustainable food systems, so I look forward to seeing the nominations for this year’s prize.

An eye on the Nordic Region

Selina Juul has travelled the world as an expert in food waste and encountered great interest in Nordic work on sustainability.

“When I talk to experts and researchers around the world, they really look up to the Nordic countries. They are focused on Nordic solutions,” she says.

“In the Nordic Region, we prioritise green lifestyles. We can always do better, of course, but we have already introduced plenty of good climate solutions, such as the waste-sorting system in Sweden, the focus on green energy in Norway and ecological initiatives in Denmark. These things bring the Nordic community together in a way that is completely unique.”

Selina Juul advises the winner of the 2021 Environment Prize not to rest on their laurels but to look ahead and use it as a platform to go even further.

“Once you have won the prize and celebrated, it’s time to get back to work. The whole world is watching the example set by the Nordic countries. The winner and the rest of the nominees are standard-bearers for a global movement.”

Submit a nomination for the Nordic Council Environment Prize 2021

Anybody can submit nominations for the Nordic Council Environment Prize. The deadline is Wednesday, 12 May. The nominees can be Nordic companies, organisations or private individuals who work in the Nordic Region and/or are linked to a partner outside the Nordic Region. The work done by the nominee must have a Nordic perspective. The prize is accompanied by a cheque for DKK 300,000.