Welcome to EAT Stockholm Food Forum

Published June 12, 2017

It´s on! 530 delegates from 46 different countries have come to Stockholm for the fourth annual EAT Stockholm Food Forum. 80 speakers are ready to enter the stage and join the dialogue on how to transform our global food system. EAT-founder and president, Gunhild A. Stordalen kicked off the first day with an engaging address on the big idea and how to get there. Watch and read her full speech here.

Before we start, I have a confession to make:

I don´t really care that much about food. I care more about people.
About saving lives. And improving health and wellbeing.

I care about basic human rights.
Like clean air, fresh water, a place to live and a decent job to go to.

I care about equal opportunities
– no matter who you are or where you were born.

And I care about creating a brighter future
– not just for some, but for everyone. Everywhere.

Food is – directly or indirectly – linked to all the Sustainable Development Goals. A transformation, to healthy diets and sustainable production, can switch food from being a driver of global challenges, to becoming a key solution to tackle them!

We are here today, because, together, we can help unlock that potential!
So, Your Royal Highness, Your Excellences, partners & friends, a warm welcome to EAT Stockholm Food Forum!

When we hosted the first forum, back in 2014, our holistic approach to food, health & sustainability was not exactly mainstream. But, in just three years time, it has become widely accepted that food system challenges should and must be addressed together.

Now, a growing number of scientists, policy makers and business leaders are looking for more in-depth and integrated answers. Already, we´ve got more knowledge than just a few years ago.

Still, there´s no consensus on how the future food system can deliver healthy diets to a growing population within the planetary boundaries.

One year ago, 20 world-leading experts in nutrition, environmental sciences and policy, met in a room right upstairs. That was the initial meeting for the EAT-Lancet Commission. Since then, with the support from numerous institutions across the globe, they have been assessing and synthesizing the best existing knowledge on the links between food, planet and health.

This report will be published in a special edition of the Lancet next Spring. It will bring us one step closer towards scientific consensus and evidence-based targets for a food system that delivers on all 17 Global Goals.

But it´s not just in science that things are gaining momentum!

The United Nations has declared this the Decade of Action on Nutrition, placing sustainable, resilient food systems at the heart of the policy agenda for world leaders.

Governments are taking steps towards linking what people need to eat, to what is actually produced. For instance, Norway just launched its first integrated plan for better diets, signed by a total of 8 ministers. Indonesia is taking on regional challenges. This October, they will co-host the first EAT forum in the Asia-Pacific! And cities, building on the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, are now sharing best practice, from improving diets to reducing food waste through the EAT-C40 Network!

In the private sector, innovation is flourishing. The tech community is redefining future food, with smart investors supporting their smart solutions. Food companies, big and small, are turning challenges into business opportunities through collaborations like the FReSH-program. And chefs are making plant-forward dishes tasty and trendy.

Before Christmas, I took my meat-loving husband to a diner in L.A. He loved his burger so much, he couldn´t even tell it was all vegan!

Three years ago, this room was filled with individual change makers. Now, we make up a web of powerful networks & collaborations across disciplines, sectors and borders.

In the big picture, though, we are still outliers. And the progress at large is no-where close to the scale and pace we need, to reach our global goals by 2030.

Yet, I have never been more confident that we´re on the right track.

After the recent US “Paxit”, climate action may not stand out as an obvious success story for global collaboration. But I believe there are some key takeaways from the process leading up to the Paris Agreement that are relevant for food:

First, we needed a common understanding of the problem. So, the UN established an international science panel – the IPCC. This allowed for 195 countries to sign up for the “2-degree target”. Now, progress is escalating, regardless of single defectors.

Of course, it´s not all smooth sailing from here. But, finally, renewable energy is becoming a truly competitive alternative. It´s already creating more jobs, and attracting more investments than fossil fuels, with a growth rate exceeding even the most optimistic scenarios!

In many ways, food is more complex than carbon, as it has to deliver on multiple targets, across disciplines. We have no IPCC-like institution for the food-related challenges.

However, collaborations, like the EAT-Lancet Commission, are now closing in on the “2- degree equivalent” for food. Clear targets will enable us to further align efforts and map out the most efficient ways forward.

2030 is just thirteen years from now!
In that time, we´ll have to shift food from being a cause to becoming a cure.
I know we can do it! But only if we work together!
Look around. We´re all here:
The regulators and the innovators
The business leaders and the thought leaders
The dreamers and the doers
According to SDG 17, we´re no longer opponents or competitors. We are all team players!

Together, we can change the system to make healthy, sustainable food accessible and affordable.
And with chef son board, it will be simply irresistible!

Now, we´ve got two days to move this agenda forwrd.

But before we get carried away by facts, figures & global goals.
Let´s remind ourselves what food is really about:

It´s about what brings families together.
It´s about the tastes that define our cultures, and the smells that turn a house into a home.
It´s what we serve to celebrate, and what we swallow in defeat
It´s what creates memories and forms bonds that can last a lifetime

I never really cared that much about food. But I simply love the magic it creates when people gather around a table. And if our solutions bring both purpose and passion,
we can make a brighter future – not just for some, but for everyone. Every day.

Once again welcome to the EAT Stockholm Food Forum.

Thank you for taking part.
For taking action.
And for taking the lead!