Sustainable food systems key to green transition in Nordics

21.06.23 | News
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Initiatives for sustainable food systems and marine economies are two current examples of how the Nordic Region can step up its efforts in respect of the climate and environment. At their meeting in Iceland, the Nordic ministers for forestry, agriculture, fishing and food had several agenda items relating to the strategic objective of a green Nordic Region.

The climate crisis and the depletion of biodiversity are global problems, and the solutions depend on a transition to more sustainable food systems, from production to consumption.  

How the Nordic countries can achieve more resilient food production and also the green transition of our food systems were two main topics at the annual summer meeting of the Nordic Council of Ministers for Fisheries, Aquaculture, Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

“You’re demonstrating in practical terms how the transition works”

“We in the Nordic countries have the knowledge and resources required to develop and implement sustainable solutions. It’s therefore our responsibility to take a leading role in these issues globally,” said Svandís Svavarsdóttir, Iceland’s Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. 

Several international experts participated in the ministers’ meeting, including Stefanos Fotiou, head of FAO’s office for the global sustainable development goals. 

“A change in food systems is key to achieving the global sustainable development goals. If we’re to succeed, we must base our policy measures on science. The Nordics can show the rest of the world how the green transition works in practical terms,” he said. 

Two new initiatives for sustainable marine economy

The ministerial meeting also provided some examples of practical action in the transition.

The ministers launched two pan-Nordic initiatives for a sustainable marine economy: one on sustainable value creation in the fishing industry and another to develop solutions for how ocean-based energy production can coexist with nature conservation and fishing.  


The ministers also decided to explore ways of encouraging more young people to work in agriculture and fishing, through education and improved working conditions.

Difficult but necessary to reduce food waste

In addition, the ministers made a political commitment to reduce food waste in the Nordic Region. 

“There’s no doubt that reducing food waste is an important but demanding task. If we’re to succeed, we have to look at the whole value chain, from waste at food producers to the food thrown away by shops and consumers. The waste must also be seen as a resource that can be used for, among other things, biogas,” said Sandra Borch, Norway’s Minister of Agriculture and Food.

Nordic Nutrition Recommendations become national guidelines

The ministerial meeting was held the day after the launch of the sixth edition of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations. 

The report summarises the current state of research on nutrients and food groups and, for the first time, outlines which food is good for both our health and the environment.

It prescribes a mainly plant-based diet, with more fish and less meat on our plates.

The ministers’ task is now to implement the recommendations nationally.