Knowledge for better food systems

UNSCN discussion paper: Sustainable diets for healthy people and a healthy planet

The United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN) has produced a discussion paper on sustainable healthy diets. It begins by outlining the relevant global policy framework and existing commitments on nutrition and climate change. It then goes on to examine the interdependence of climate change, food systems, diets, nutrition and health, before setting out which policy steps need to be taken to further research and action in this area.

It concludes:

  • Sustainable and healthy diets can bring co-benefits to the environment and to people’s wellbeing and nutritional status
  • Adopting food-based dietary guidelines that include sustainability criteria is crucial
  • The world needs to engage in climate actions that support nutrition
  • Promoting sustainable and healthy diets and nutrition should be recognized as a priority for climate financing.
  • Investment and research are needed to bolster knowledge on sustainable and healthy diets and to spawn effective measures for shifting dietary patterns
  • Coherent public policies are required, from production to consumption across sectors
  • The Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition provide crucial frameworks for joint action to nourish the world sustainably.

To download the report, see here.

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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