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On the Menu: Can Food be the Planet’s Medicine?

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On the heels of fresh evidence that current diets are making both people and planet sick, On the Menu: Can Food be the Planet’s Medicine?  gathered thought leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs and policy makers who aim to challenge the status quo of food consumption and production.

World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva kicked off the event with remarks that made clear why transforming food is such a priority agenda – it is essential to boost economic inclusion, build human capital and increase climate resilience. EAT Co-founders Gunhild Stordalen and Johan Rockström then shared highlights from the recent EAT- Lancet Commission Report on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems which attempts for the first time to define a healthy diet based on available scientific evidence and imagine what it would take to feed almost 10 billion people by 2050 a healthy diet within planetary boundaries. Two strong messages emerged: We’re unlikely to stay within safe operating zones on most environmental indicators – water, greenhouse gases, biodiversity, phosphorus, etc – unless we shift to a planetary health diet. This shift will require many forms of investments and the involvement of all actors – from producers to policy makers and consumers to get there. In particular, we need to figure out how to sustainably increase the production of fruit, vegetables, nuts and pulses – something we do not yet have the answer to.

A panel discussion zoomed in on the actions we can take to support this major shift. Evan Lutz, CEO of Hungry Harvest, shared the story of his social enterprise that provides fresh food delivery services focused on ending hunger and reducing food loss and waste. Chef Alejandra Schrader delivered a powerful plea for educating home cooks so that they feel empowered to improve their diets through delicious and healthy food; Abir Lemseffer, Director General of the Initiative for the Adaptation of African Agriculture to Climate Change, stressed that most of the growing population in coming decades will be in Sub-Saharan Africa, where climate, livelihoods, agriculture and hunger form a single, vital agenda. Norway’s Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein stressed the importance of investing in sustainable fisheries and curbing tropical deforestation rates to protect important food supplies and ecosystem services. 

The quest for “Food and Fuel” are the main drivers reshaping our planet according to World Resources Institute Vice President Craig Hanson, who moderated the panel - the rest is “Footnotes.”

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