The COVID-19 health crisis not only brought on an economic crisis but also radically exacerbated the world’s ongoing food security, nutrition, and climate crises. At the same time, the outbreak of the pandemic itself is deeply connected to today’s fragile food systems that degrade the environment through unsustainable land-use. As broken food systems push human, animal, and planetary health to their limits, policymakers and public health professionals alike must change the discourse surrounding food systems and come together so that transformative change and health are put at the centre of the pandemic recovery agenda.
In this Independent Dialogue, experts from across the health and food communities explored how a new narrative about health and food systems can be used to stimulate action and drive decision-makers towards making commitments, from policies to investments, that deliver on better health outcomes for people, animals, and the planet. Following on the heels of the Seventy-fourth World Health Assembly (24 May – 1 June), attendees gathered to gain a deeper understanding of intersection points across the health-food systems nexus, identifying where targeted, multi-stakeholder action could take place and create a multiplier effect across the Sustainable Development Goals.
Now, more than ever, a systemic narrative about food and health must be reflected in the language of intersecting and aligned global processes – such as the G7, G20, UNFSS, COP26, COP15 and Nutrition for Growth Summit. The outcomes of this Independent Dialogue were submitted formally as an input to the UN Food Systems Summit 2021.
- Promoted health and food systems resilience as critical to COVID-19 recovery
- Communicated why new food systems narratives centered around upholding human, ecological, and animal health are needed, (i.e., One Health), demonstrating how dominant narratives are undermining all three dimensions of health as well as the pandemic recovery process;
- Catalyzed support for an integrated, holistic approach to policy reform and coordinated action across food and health sectors, and explored opportunities for health and food systems actors to work together more for policy and practice reform
- Elevated case studies from around the world, showcasing how government leaders, the health sector and other food systems actors have designed policies and practices that have delivered better health and sustainability outcomes for all.
The dialogue was supported by the SUN Movement, NCD Alliance, Healthcare Without Harm, World Obesity Federation, International Federation of Medical Students Association, Compassion in World Farming, 1000 Days, International Labour Organization, CIAT Bioversity International, World Medical Association, Lagos Food Bank, Centre for Science and Environment.