Report on the Fifth Annual EAT Stockholm Food Forum

July 2018

EAT Stockholm Food Fora have been held every year since 2014. As a “science-based global platform for food system transformation,” the EAT initiative partners with a range of foundations, academic institutions, organizations and companies. The underlying principle is that everybody on earth has the right to healthy diets within planetary boundaries.

For the first time, the 2018 forum, “Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone,” was co-hosted by EAT and the Swedish Ministry of International Development Cooperation and Climate Change and gathered more 600 participants from science, politics, business and civil society from over 50 countries.

Highlights from EAT 2018:

  • The EAT Forum provided an opportunity to launch IFPRI’s 2018 Global Food Policy Report in Sweden.
  • Dysfunctional food systems are the leading cause of Climate Change. Since CoP21 in Paris, it has been clear that food systems need to be rethought and transformed. The issue is no longer whether or not large-scale changes to food systems are feasible, but instead how necessary transformations can take place.
  • The nexus of food, health and climate is at the heart of Sweden’s priorities; it is urgent to steer a new paradigm to ensure both the health of people and that of the planet, with Agenda 2030 providing the roadmap.
  • According to WWF’s report, “30X30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge,” since 30% of Climate Change is related to land use, increased attention should be given to this issue by 2030. EAT is planning to launch a Talanoa Dialogue at the COP 24 in Katowice, Poland, in December and is looking for ideas and partners.
  • WHO acknowledges that healthy diets are as important to health as clean water, sanitation, and hygiene. Healthy and sustainable diets need to become the new normal.
  • While important, food policy alone will not provide effective solutions. Food is the deepest expression of our culture as well as a business proposition. Telling people what they should or shouldn’t eat does not work.
  • It is important that consumers start buying pro-poor and pro-earth.
  • Chefs are key: cooking is not any longer about deliciousness but about making the smart food choice irresistible. Solutions Menu: A Nordic Guide to Sustainable Food includes 24 policies that aim to change food consumption and intends to inspire policy responses to the societal and environmental challenges caused by current food systems.
  • The EAT Lancet commission on Food, Planet, Health will be published by The Lancet in late 2018. The Commission’s five Working Groups are working to answer the questions: 1) What is a healthy diet? 2) What are sustainable food systems? 3) What are the trends shaping diets today? 4) Can we achieve healthy diets from sustainable food systems, ad how? and, 5) What are the solutions and policies we can apply?
  • With more than 50% of the world population living in urban locations, cities have a major role to play in developing sustainability solutions and opportunities. The C40 Food Systems network, in partnership with the EAT initiative, focuses on four areas: 1) food procurement; 2) production; 3) distribution; and, 4) waste. This network also supports participating cities by implementing comprehensive solutions that reduce carbon emissions, increase climate resilience, and ensure greater health equity and sustainability.
  • Political commitment as well as scientific targets—in particular Earth targets for the Earth commons—are essential. Although good data are obviously needed, their role in decision-making must be questioned. It is important is to link global and local processes and to bring solutions to governments rather than additional problems. You need to tell people what they can do, not what they can’t.

Of course, there is no silver bullet solution, nor a single path to tackling the complex health and environmental challenges presented by our global food systems. Difficult trade-offs will need to be made and inconvenient truths faced. It is time for a revolution.

Florence Egal, reporting for FLEdGE.