Opening adress by Dr. Gunhild A Stordalen

– Find the courage to lead!

Published June 13, 2016

Read the speech:

Over the next 10 minutes, the world will welcome 2,500 new citizens.
Almost 300 – over 10% – will not have enough food for a healthy life.
Almost 1000 – a staggering 40% – are expected to grow up to be overweight

And guess what will be their biggest killer? Not alcohol. Not tobacco. But food!

It’s food that is the leading cause of our global health crisis. And it is food that’s at the heart of the environmental catastrophe facing the planet:

It´s food that is responsible for almost 1/3 of all greenhouse gas emissions. It’s food that is the single most important cause of loss of biodiversity.

And as our population grows, faster by the minute, the stakes grow even higher. And yet this is the only global forum where we can piece this jigsaw together!
We have a COP for climate. The world meets to discuss and take action for the environment, and health, and the economy, and migration. Separately.
But all these issues are driven by our eating habits!

Not fixing our food system is the fast-track to failure on almost all the SDGs.
Or to be more positive – changing what’s on the world’s plates – and how it got there – will help tackle almost all of today’s major collective challenges.

But last year, in Paris and in New York, food was only on the plates, unfortunately not on the agenda. Here, food is THE agenda!

I am here – against the advice of my doctors – because I believe this is the most important issue facing the planet. YOU are here, to help change the lives of more than 9 billion humans, and because you have already started.
You are academic pioneers, political leaders, super-successful entrepreneurs, civil society game-changers – and visionary chefs.

But sorry, guys – you alone are not enough. Will never be enough!
No single government, business, organisation or individual can change the way the world eats – alone!

As clichéd as it is, we have to work together.

We don’t need a top-down solution.
We can’t wait for bottom-up answers.
We need – the world needs – round-table solutions! My Friends, EAT is that table!


Since we met last year, EAT has been transformed: More powerful, more professional, more robust – and not to forget, more impactful.
A table that is built to last. Built to create a new agenda.
And as you will learn in more detail over the next 2 days, EAT is now focusing on five different themes – the “Big Five” C´s:

• Experts from different fields of science, to co-create solutions and uncover synergies. Facts on where we are and where we should be – and then, policies to get us there.

CITIES. Most of those 2.500 newborns will live out their lives in urban areas. Progressive mayors have already taken action on climate, on energy, on transport. In partnership with EAT, they are now moving on to kitchens, restaurants – and the entire urban food value chain.

COMPANIES were crucial in Paris. Now in partnership with EAT, they will invest to create a triple return – for people, planet and profit – and long-term sustainability for their shareholders. Business for tomorrow, and today!

• Fourth, a platform of CHEFs to rewrite the world’s menus.

• Finally, our fifth C, CONSUMERS. We will be sharing new insights on how to inform, engage, nudge and change their eating habits.

These five C’s are what WE bring to the table.
But it’s just a pile of paperwork without YOU!


So, First, welcome to the scientists & the academics!
You possess the knowledge that is – or should be – at the foundation of all good decision making. However, scientific success is often built on the ability to deep dive into tiny pixels, to unlock the answers for a single, crucial piece of a puzzle.

Now we ask you to look beyond the micro, and leverage the macro connections.

The world has a lot of geniuses – but what we need now, are more PARTNERS

Next, politicians! Welcome!
You are elected on a short term basis, so I can’t – or won’t – blame you for the PAST. But too often your pre-decessors have been scared off for fear of losing the votes of junk food -lovers – or the support of companies with narrow outlooks.

You know those votes have a cost – human, health & environmental.
Now you must find the courage to lead. To take your voters where they need to go. And make the industry help them get there. Act for all generations, including your own!

And then… to all the business leaders who have joined us, welcome to the EAT table.

You are the industry front-runners.
You have understood that the sugar-coated home alone party is nearly over -and less and less appealing to your customers, investors and employees!

But many still make & market products in ways that are BAD for the environment, BAD for the consumer, bad for farmers and farm workers
– or simply not good for anything…. but short-term profit!

Now it’s time to go beyond adjusting recipes, and start to build new – TRULY sustainable business models! Which many of you are already doing!

Last but not least; Welcome all chefs!
You are the rock stars of the food world. You used to look like Meat Loaf. Now you’re all Avicis! You communicate with consumers every day! So start using that influence to make us crave the right choices. To set us free from the history of how we used to eat. And to teach us what a healthy sustainable future could taste like.

It’s a good, old quote from (mostly) bad old men:

Together, you make up not only a `coalition of the willing – but a coalition of the bold and forward-thinking. -A coalition that the world needs now more than ever!

Eat is not a crash course on global crises. Nor is it a today COCKTAIL PARTY.

You are not here to LEAN BACK, watch fancy power point slides and exchange business cards. We are not going to tell you exactly what to do or what sessions to attend.

We expect YOU to bring your own ideas to OUR table.
And hopefully, to take home a full DOGGY BAG of ideas, partnerships & plans.

In this room, we are 500 leaders from all parts of the global food system. A system that will SHAPE the lives of those 2,500 new citizens.

Working together we can, we must, we will CHANGE that system.
So that our planet can PROSPER

– and with it, they can too.

So, let´s get to work!