Transforming Food Systems for Affordable Healthy Diets: FAO Global Webinar – Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition28 April 2021
By Elena Schmider
The FAO global webinar “Transforming food systems for affordable healthy diets and addressing key drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition” was held on April 12th, 2021 as part of the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition.
This multistakeholder event reflected FAO’s call for global, multilateral cooperation to transform food systems to support healthier diets. Panelists included high-level representatives from Chatham House, IFPRI, Agriculture & Nutrition Ltd., the University of California, the World Bank and John Hopkins University. The discussion which followed focused on how policymakers, NGOs, the private sector and international institutions have contributed research, actions and recommendations for systemic change in the food industry. The message was clear: it needs to be easier for people to buy and eat healthy foods.
ATNI’s mission, to develop and deliver tools that track the contribution of the food and beverage sector to addressing global nutrition challenges, is central to addressing the global nutrition crisis. The global webinar highlighted that private sector engagement is relevant now more than ever. The high incidence of hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 amongst adults with obesity and children suffering from undernutrition, for example, has called into question the role of food systems not only in perpetuating unhealthy diets but also in increasing vulnerability to other health risks. The pandemic has also reinvigorated an already-growing consumer demand for healthy, nutritious and functional foods, which, together with shocks to food supply chains, has places substantial pressure on the food industry to undergo a transformation.
ATNI helps to drive this change through developing and delivering tools that track the contribution of the food and beverage sector to addressing the twin global nutrition challenges of obesity and undernutrition, and the wide range of diseases that go with them. By using these tools, and engaging with and supporting other stakeholders, ATNI actively holds companies accountable for delivering on their nutritional commitments. For example, the Covid-19 report series was developed to monitor nutrition-sensitive responses to the COVID-19 pandemic by food and beverage manufacturers globally. This multisectoral approach was echoed by speakers during the FAO webinar, who highlighted positive actions that all actors in food value chains can take to improve global nutrition and the resilience of food systems during and after the pandemic:
- Creating enabling environment to leverage the private sector for sustainable food systems change
- Building networks for coordinated, cross-sectoral progress
- Connecting SMEs in the food industry to supporting systems
- Investing in better quality data
- Educating the public to build demand for healthier diets
- Prioritizing policy coherence and context-specific interventions to create change
- Addressing power imbalances in the food industry
- Supporting equal access to healthy diets for all
The webinar will be used as input for the 2021 edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition Report, one of the FAO’s flagship publications. An official recording of the webinar can be found here.