017 Healthy people, healthy planet

Designing narrative scenarios on healthy diets from sustainable production systems


  • WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development)
  • EAT
  • IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature)
  • Danone Group
  • FAO
  • Bioversity


Several global modeling efforts, including those conducted by the EAT Lancet commission indicate that feeding a global population of 10 billion with a healthy diet, while achieving the ambitious Half Earth conservation target, requires triggering at least five major levers at once: significant dietary shifts towards plant-forward diets, large reductions in food waste and loss, strict management of land and oceans, sustainable intensification of production systems to close yield and income gaps, and trade.
As countries begin to develop national pathways to healthy and sustainable food and land use systems, they will urgently need to understand the extent to which business solutions are available and capable to ‘bend the curve’ towards healthy and sustainable food and land use systems. A clear understanding of the range of business solutions on hand, or in development is required alongside agreement on current business solutions that will need phasing out.
To lead this necessary food systems transformation, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), together with its partners, has been developing a narrative around the objective to ‘Ensure that all people have access to sufficient and healthy food, as well as fibre, fuel and feed, produced from a healthy planet.

It calls for action from business and society to address four objectives at the same time: (i) provide healthy, nutritious affordable, accessible food that all people need, leaving no-one behind; avoid food being lost or wasted, (ii) contribute to prosperity of people everywhere with a focus on small-scale food producers, processors, marketers – especially women, (iii) restore and conserve key elements of ecosystems, including: top soil, water, forests, oceans & biodiversity, and (iv) limit release of greenhouse gases and help sequester atmospheric carbon whilst supporting resilience and adaptation in communities threatened by volatile weather.

This side event aims to dialogue with non-business partners on how this narrative can inform society at large, and especially in the framework of CFS, how it applies to the developing and transition economies.

Key speakers/presenters

  • Alison Cairns, FReSH Director, WBCSD
  • Jessica Fanzo, Senior Programme Officer, FAO
  • Patrick Caron, Chair, High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition
  • Agnès Martin, Health & Diets Advocacy Director, Danone
  • Alain Vidal, Business and Biodiversity Program, IUCN
  • Fabrice DeClerck, Science Director, EAT


Main themes/issues discussed

WBCSD together with its member companies and partners have been developing a narrative that will drive business action toward a ‘Healthy People and a Healthy Planet’ to ensure that all people have access to sufficient, affordable and healthy food, as well as fiber, fuel and feed. This side event aimed to dialogue with non-business partners on how this narrative can inform society at large, and especially in the framework of CFS, how it applies to the developing and transition economies.

Summary of key points

The three narratives presented by the business (WBCSD), intergovernmental mechanisms (CFS HLPE and IUCN) showed a remarkable alignment on the need to transform food systems to contribute to better human and planetary health along the pathway set by science through, among others, the EAT Lancet Commission which will set out the safe operating space to secure healthy diets from a sustainable food system. The discussion emphasized the resulting trade-offs that need to be addressed, such as between health and the environment in the case of dairy, and called for a better understanding of trade-offs, especially their socio-economic dimension, and the need to develop the capacity of stakeholders to address these, in particular governments that are not institutionally set up to respond to systemic challenges.

Key take away messages

There were five big messages that emerged from the panel discussion and dialogue with the audience:

  1. The food system challenge is much more complex than climate. We need to address sustainable intensification, food loss and waste, and dietary shifts all at the same time.
  2. The ‘2 degrees for food’ will require targets for climate, land allocation, water, biodiversity and diet amongst others. This means that grappling with trade-offs will never go away so we need to explore what we are trading things off against. This is a key question for governments to answer to guide business action.
  3. The science is setting out the safe operating space for the food system but also defining the innovation space for business where technology and innovating farming practice can make an important impact.
  4. Better engagement is needed with Millennials, they are our future. They also have greater capacity than other generations to change and adapt and are less afraid of trade-offs.
  5. We are beginning to have a common understanding of the challenges and recognition that effective collaboration and cohesive action amongst governments, business, civil society and consumers will be the only way to ensure we will have ‘healthy people and a healthy planet’.
CFS Side Event 017 - Everyone eating well within environmental limits