livewell

On our plate today: Healthy and sustainable food choices

livewell

The world’s food system is riddled with problems and contradictions. Millions of people in poor countries are still hungry; yet millions in rich countries are suffering from obesity. Meanwhile, the use of land and water for agriculture is eroding the environment, and food consumption is responsible for 31% of EU greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our western diets cannot be made universal,” said Olivier de Schutter, a law professor who was UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food until this year. “I think we need a food policy. We need realistic strategies that bring all this together.”

The LiveWell project for Low Impact Food in Europe (LIFE) project is grappling with these difficulties. It aims to show that a diet that reduces greenhouse gases can also be healthy, nutritious and affordable. It does this by, for example, suggesting diets adapted for three pilot countries – France, Spain and Sweden. Livewell also brings together business, policy makers and civil society, aiming to generate maximum support for sustainable diets.

“You don’t have to be vegetarian,” said Duncan Williamson, Food Policy Manager at WWF UK at the LiveWell final conference, organised by Friends of Europe and WWF. “You just need to moderate meat consumption. Livewell for LIFE was about raising awareness. Now it is about actions.”

Some 800 mln people in the world are suffering from hunger, many of whom need more protein in their diet, said Jean-Pierre Halkin, Head of Unit for Rural Development, Food Security and Nutrition at the European commission Directorate General for Development and Cooperation. “This is one of the most extreme forms of inequity.”

However, the world’s current meat production system has been sharply criticised for its waste and environmental impact. For example, grasslands in the southern hemisphere have been converted for crop-growing to feed animals for meat production in richer countries. As a whole, humans’ ecological footprint – the burden they are placing on the earth’s ecosystem – is 1.5 planets. Tony Long, Director at the WWF European Policy Office, said that Europeans are more wasteful than the average, living on the equivalent of 2.6 planets. “That means we are living at someone else’s expense.”

Overconsumption is now weighing on healthcare systems. Europeans consume in 95 kg of meat a year on average, and 7% of EU healthcare costs are related to obesity or overweight, said de Schutter. He said we should reduce meat consumption to 20 kg a year.

But that is hard while the food processing industry provides cheap, convenient food for an increasingly busy population. “People have less time to cook or prepare healthier alternatives,” he said. “So they buy convenience foods instead.”

A report produced by LiveWell presents a toolbox of policy options to encourage better diets. It identifies three specific actions for the short term: strengthening public procurement, integrating healthy and sustainable dietary guidelines and improving food education.

Public health education can help encourage healthier, more sustainable diets. The French government has for some years been delivering messages on the desirable intake of things like vegetables and dairy products.

However, these guidelines are only followed by a minority of the population, said Agnès Martin, Science and Nutrition Director for Dairy R&D at Danone Nutricia Research. “Policy messages are not enough,” she said. “Changing food choice behaviour is difficult.”

This conference was organised as part of the LiveWell for Low Impact Food in Europe (LIFE) project, which is funded with the contribution of the EU’s LIFE+ Programme for the Environment.

Photo-gallery:

Videos presented at the debate:

Featuring

  • Roberto Bertollini

    Chief Scientist and WHO Representative to the EU

  • Chantal Bruetschy

    Head of Unit for Innovation and Sustainability at the European Commission Directorate General for Health and Consumers

  • Nicole Darmon

    Research Director at the French Institute for Agricultural and Food Research (INRA)

  • Glyn Davies

    Conservation Director at WWF UK

  • Enrico Derflingher

    Italian Chef and Vice President of Euro Toques International

  • Olivier de Schutter

    UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food (2008-2014)

  • Emile Frison

    Chair of the International Sustainable Food Systems and Diet Scientific Committee of the Daniel and Nina Carasso Fondation and former Director of Bioversity International

  • Pascal Gréverath

    Head of Environmental Sustainability at Nestlé and Chairman of the FoodDrinkEurope Environmental Sustainability Committee

  • Jean-Pierre Halkin

    Head of Unit for Rural Development, Food Security and Nutrition at the European Commission Directorate General for Development and Cooperation

  • Samuel Levie

    Founder of the Youth Food Movement, Co-owner of Brandt & Levy and Partner at Food Cabinet

  • James Lomax

    Agri-Food Programme Officer in the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE)

  • Tony Long

    Director at WWF European Policy Office

  • Philip Lymbery

    Author of Farmageddon and CEO of Compassion in World Farming

  • Agnes Martin

    Science and Nutrition Director for Dairy R&D at Danone Nutricia Research

  • Sirpa Pietikäinen

    Co-Chair of the Sustainable Food Steering Group and Substitute Member of the European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

  • Brian Thompson

    Senior Nutrition Specialist at Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

  • Duncan Williamson

    Food Policy Manager at WWF UK

  • Pavel Poc

    Vice Chair of the European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

Programme

08.45 – 09.15 Welcome and registration of participants

Glyn Davies has worked at local, national and international levels looking at the environment and development, forest and wildlife conservation, and biodiversity policy. He has conducted field research on conservation and development in Malaysia, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Cameroon, and has also worked with the European Commission to produce policy documents on biodiversity in development.

How attainable is meeting the global goal of sustainable food and nutrition security in light of the unprecedented increase in population growth, a global shift towards western diets and the effects of climate change? The world’s richest countries have to contend with food overconsumption, unhealthy dietary patterns and increases in some chronic diseases, while the developing world is being faced with the double burden of malnutrition, through both under and overconsumption. Farmers are under pressure to produce more food, while a changing climate further slows down production growth. At the same time one third of food is wasted. A more sustainable global food system requires these problems to be addressed through an integrated strategy. What is the role of food consumption in this equation? What changes in agricultural investment, business practices and international trade conditions are needed? How should national governments, multilateral organisations and businesses respond to these alarming trends in food production and consumption – in particular in Europe?

Pascal Gréverath / Head of Environmental Sustainability at Nestlé and Chairman of the FoodDrinkEurope Environmental Sustainability Committee

Pascal Gréverath is Nestlé’s Assistant Vice-President and Head of Environmental Sustainability in charge of defining and coordinating the implementation of the company’s environmental strategy worldwide. He is also Chairman of the Environmental Sustainability Committee of FoodDrinkEurope, which represents the European food and drink industry, and Co-chair at the European Food Sustainable Consumption and Production Roundtable Steering Committee on behalf of the European food supply chain and together with the European Commission.

Olivier de Schutter / UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food (2008-2014)

Olivier De Schutter is an expert on social and economic rights and on economic globalisation and Professor of Law at the University of Louvain (UCL). As UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food (2008-2014), he has released official reports on agroecology, nutrition, contract farming, fisheries, gender and other key issues tied to securing the right to food. He has advocated the need for smallholder farmers to be at the centre of food security strategies and urged countries to reinvest in their agricultural sectors.

Brian Thompson / Senior Nutrition Specialist at Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

A nutritionist with over 30 years of international development experience, Brian Thompson is currently Senior Officer in the Nutrition and Consumer Protection Division of FAO at their Headquarters in Rome dealing with nutrition security and policy. He advises member countries on the development and implementation of nutrition-sensitive policies, strategies and plans of action for promoting and improving food and nutrition security in both emergency and development contexts.

Duncan Williamson / Food Policy Manager at WWF UK

One of the fathers of the Livewell project idea, Duncan Williamson has been working in the field of sustainable systems for 20 years. He is now Food Policy Manager for WWF UK, focusing on sustainable and healthy food systems and food security. He is also part of the WWF Steering Group on the post 2015 agenda, leading the food security-related work, and is on the advisory group for the Food and Climate Research Network (FCRN) and to the UNEP Sustainable food System Program.

Jean-Pierre Halkin / Head of Unit for Rural Development, Food Security and Nutrition at the European Commission Directorate General for Development and Cooperation

Jean-Pierre Halkin joined DG Development and Cooperation in 1986, working first in Africa, then in Brussels in the fields of food security and nutrition, rural development and agriculture, as well as the environment and climate change. He currently heads the unit responsible for policy development, methodological support and the management of financial instruments, notably the Food Security Thematic Programme and the Food Facility.

 

Moderated by Shada Islam / Director of Policy at Friends of Europe

11.00 – 11.30 Coffee break

Philip Lymbery is CEO of the world’s leading farm animal welfare organisation, Compassion in World Farming, and a commentator on the effects of industrial farming. His recent book “Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat” (2014) has been described as ‘a wake-up call to change our current food production and eating practices, looking behind the closed doors of the runaway industry and striving to find a better farming future’.
A broad consensus seems to exist between the public and private sector on the direction of travel for healthy and sustainable diets, and many companies have committed themselves to improve their own practices to support this aim. An increasing number of stakeholders is calling for better cooperation between food chain partners to achieve real solutions at scale. This opens up possibilities for progress, but also raises questions: How can new business models, public policies and regulations work together to make sustainable choices easier for people? What can be learned from public-private partnerships on healthy diets? Can business do more by itself to help people adopt simple behavioural shifts that trigger demand for more sustainable food products? How to encourage governments to agree and adopt guidelines for healthy, sustainable diets? What successful initiatives already exist which promote more sustainable patterns of food consumption? What next steps ought to be implemented by actors of the food chain to ensure the widespread adoption of sustainable and healthy diets?

Roberto Bertollini / Chief Scientist and WHO Representative to the EU

Roberto Bertollini has been involved in the development and progress of the public health agenda and in implementing health cooperation projects throughout Europe and at global level. In addition to his position as WHO Representative to the European Union, he is WHO Chief Scientist with the specific task of supporting the Regional Director’s Office with the scientific evidence that underpins WHO health policies and strategies.

Enrico Derflingher / Italian Chef and Vice President of Euro Toques International

Enrico Derflingher is one of the most recognised and awarded Italian chefs in the world. His impressive career has included working for many notable personalities, including the British Royal Family and US President George H.W. Bush. As Vice President of Euro Toques International, the EU’s chefs’ association, he has been very active in promoting healthy, sustainable and high quality diets.

Emile Frison / Chair of the International Sustainable Food Systems and Diet Scientific Committee of the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation and former Director of Bioversity International

Emile Frison has spent most of his career in international agricultural research for development. As Director of Bioversity International (2003-2013), a global research-for-development organisation, he worked on agricultural biodiversity and its significance to sustainable global food and nutrition security. He is now Chair of the International Sustainable Food Systems and Diet Scientific Committee of the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation.

Agnès Martin / Science and Nutrition Director for Dairy R&D at Danone Nutricia Research

Agnes Martin has a solid scientific background in life sciences, nutrition and health, and over 20 years of experience working for Groupe Danone worldwide, the world’s leading multinational food corporation, producing dairy products, bottled water, cereals and baby foods. In her current position at Nutricia Research, Danone’s division and global R&D organisation, she ensures the scientific and nutritional credibility of Danone’s products and related communication for European dairy business units.

Sirpa Pietikäinen / Co-Chair of the Sustainable Food Steering Group and Substitute Member of the European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

Formerly the Finnish Minister for the Environment, Sirpa Pietikäinen is currently a member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and substitute member of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee at the European Parliament. She is very active in the field of sustainable food consumption and has co-chaired the European Parliament Sustainable Food Steering Group.

Moderated by Tamsin Rose / Strategic Health Advisor at Friends of Europe and Director of Tamarack

13.00 – 14.00 Networking lunch

Samuel Levie is a young entrepreneur with a great passion for food. He founded the Dutch Youth Food Movement and co-founded the Food Film Festival. He owns two companies: the Food Cabinet, a consultancy bureau in Amsterdam focusing on food for change, and Brandt & Levie, an artisan sausage factory. He was awarded Trendwatcher of the Year (2012) in the category of Food and Best Young Social Entrepreneur (2010).

The LiveWell project showed that government policy already influences people’s food choices in a variety of ways. Most policy competence on nutrition in Europe lies with Member States, but several EU policy instruments on food safety, environment, agriculture and competitiveness play a pivotal role in Europe’s food production and consumption. The EU’s Communication on Sustainable Food, which includes sustainable food choices as a specific priority, suggests the Commission is preparing the ground for better integration. However, joint strategies towards a sustainable diet that integrates environmental, health and economic goals remains a distant goal. What concrete and coordinated policy actions could foster real change? Which policy measures and regulations would encourage a shift towards greater food sustainability in Europe? Could economic and fiscal measures, along with greener public procurement be the tools to promote more sustainable food consumption in Europe and what should EU member states be doing to create more sustainable national food policies? What do policymakers make of the opportunities and threats of an EU-level agenda for sustainable diets, and how do they see the outlook for EU support on sustainable diets? How to encourage the integration of healthy and sustainable diets into national food education measures?

Chantal Bruetschy / Head of Unit for Innovation and Sustainability at the European Commission Directorate General for Health and Consumers

Chantal Bruetschy has been working for many years in the areas of health and sustainability at the European Commission. She was in charge of the enlargement negotiations on food safety in DG Health and Consumers (DG Sanco) before joining DG Environment in 2004 to deal with biotechnology, pesticides, health and urban issues. In 2011 she moved back to DG Sanco as Head of Unit for Innovation and Sustainability in the directorate responsible for safety of the food chain.

Nicole Darmon / Research Director at the French Institute for Agricultural and Food Research (INRA)

Nicole Darmon is expert in the field of sustainable diets and nutrition recommendations. In her current position at the French National Research Institute for Agronomy (INRA) she coordinates research aimed at assessing the relevance of existing dietary recommendations and developing new approaches to enhance the nutritional adequacy within the concept of sustainable diets, which embraces nutrition/health, environmental, social and economic dimensions.

Tony Long / Director at WWF European Policy Office

Tony Long has 35 years of environmental leadership experience in Europe. He founded and heads the World Wide Fund for Nature’s European Policy Office in Brussels. He is also a member of WWF International’s Conservation Committee responsible for developing and overseeing the organisation’s global conservation programme, Member of the European Board of the Global Footprint Network, and has authored several publications on environmental campaigning.

James Lomax / Agri-Food Programme Officer in the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Division of Technology, Industry and Economics

James Lomax has pursued a varied career in the private sector in farming, food processing and the export of food in Africa and Europe, and has spent many years facilitating training and overseeing the introduction of sustainability standards. He is now the lead on sustainable agriculture and food systems in the UNEP Sustainable Consumption and Production Branch. A key element of his work is the FAO/UNEP Sustainable Food Systems Programme which he leads in partnership with FAO.

Pavel Poc / Vice Chair of the European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

Pavel Poc has been a member of the European Parliament since 2004 and is now Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. Over the last mandate, he chaired the European Parliament Intergroup on “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development”, a multi-stakeholder platform to discuss and address the pressing environmental and socio-economic challenges to sustainable development. He holds a degree in general biology and environmental law.

Moderated by Tamsin Rose / Strategic Health Advisor at Friends of Europe and Director of Tamarack

15.30 – 16.00  Networking cocktail and end of conference

Partners

WITH THE SUPPORT OF

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WITH MEDIA PARTNER

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