Food systems are interconnected with regards to global challenges such as hunger, climate change, poverty, and inequality. The response from food systems actors globally must be equally connected. This is the message in an article published in the Lancet online, where leaders from the Johns Hopkins University, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), have joined forces in expressing a strong call to action for food and health communities to work together.
Jessica Fanzo, Director, Johns Hopkins Global Food Ethics and Policy Program says: “It is imperative that our health sectors and health partners join us in transforming the food systems for those that are undernourished, particularly older, vulnerable and marginalized people.” She continues: “To have a healthy planet, we need everyone to have a healthy diet.”
Talking about how health systems and food systems are interconnected, Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of GAIN and 2018 World Food Prize Laureate, says: “We already know that good nutrition is the foundation for a healthy life, which in turn leads to healthy and thriving communities. By working together and combining our knowledge there is a real opportunity now to support the transformation of food systems, securing healthy and nutritious diets for all.”
José Rosero Moncayo, Director of FAO Statistics Division, FAO says: “Without the actors in global health we cannot achieve healthy diets on our plates and nor can we achieve sustainable agricultural practices.” He adds: “It is crucial that we work together with health system actors in shaping healthy communities.”
With the UN Food Systems Summit starting on 23 September, the joint statement points to a real opportunity to advance cooperation between the global health sectors and stakeholders and increase research and innovation for safe, nutritious, affordable, and accessible food for all.
As stated in the Lancet article: “An interconnected systems approach with equity and human rights at the core is essential to achieve health, food, and environmental goals simultaneously. The health community has a vested stake in this approach, and what happens during and after the Summit.”
Haddad adds: “Transforming food systems requires all hands on deck from all the stakeholders to achieve both safe, nutritious and healthy food for all. The Food Systems Summit and its related events such as the ‘Youth is the Future’ event and ‘Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge’ are key to achieving this.”