The EAT Initiative, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Sustainable Development Solution Network (SDSN), the United Nations Non-‐Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS), the Avatar Alliance Foundation, the Environmental Defense Fund, are jointly organizing an invitation-only event to coincide with the 69th UN General Assembly (UNGA) week and the UN Climate Summit.
Food production is responsible for up to 30 % of global greenhouse gas emissions1 with some 14.5 % emission caused by livestock production alone2. To chart a sustainable future, by the year 2050, food production must increase by 70% to meet demand, whilst at the same time, agricultural emissions and pollution must fall; water resources and remaining natural ecosystems must be preserved; and the carbon sequestration potential of landscapes must be maximised. Climate change alone, without adaptation, is estimated to severely affect food security, accentuated by the expected population growth over the coming century, threatening the livelihood of future generations.
At the same time, the world faces a double burden of malnutrition, while around 900 million people still goes hungry, more than 2 billion people are now overweight or obese. Hunger and inadequate nutrition affect the wellbeing, development and health of mothers, infants and children, thereby placing an economic and social burden on the growth of nations. At the other end of the scale, growing trends towards obesity are linked to the increasing burden of non-‐communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
In particular, the prevalence of childhood obesity has increased globally at an alarming rate, to more than 42 million overweight children under the age of five in 20103. Overweight and obese children are likely to stay obese into adulthood and thus, more likely to develop NCDs at a younger age. ‘
Global changes to the food we eat are multiplying these risks, with no country left untouched. Underlying both of these problems are demographic and socio-‐economic trends that are driving changes in dietary eating patterns worldwide and increasing demand for particular types of food such as animal-‐sourced-‐foods, vegetable oils, sugar, and ultra-‐processed foods. In 2010, diet was the leading risk factor for disease worldwide4.
The need for healthy and sustainable diets has been highlighted in the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recently tabled by the Open Working Group. In particular, proposed Goal 2 seeks to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030, while calling for sustainable food production systems. Proposed Goal 12 emphasizes the need to reduce food waste and losses. These goals will only be achieved through interdisciplinary approaches in a collaborative effort across academia, business, politics and civil society.
In recent years, the efforts of the UN Secretary-‐General’s Zero Hunger Initiative and the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, among others, have raised international awareness and our collective ambition to end malnutrition. Achieving Sustainable Development will require innovative global partnerships, bridging stakeholder groups together. Transformative change is possible by translating awareness and ambition into an Agenda for Action that will lead to Healthier and Sustainable Food Systems and Diets.