Queen Letizia of Spain takes part in international nutrition symposium

FAO event focused on dietary analysis, strategy and the role of everyday cooking at home

2 December 2016, Rome – Queen Letizia of Spain, FAO’s Special Ambassador for Nutrition, joined more than 600 experts, international civil servants, lawmakers, academics and members of civil-society and private-sector groups in attending the  International Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Improved Nutrition. 
The two-day meeting allowed for information sharing and deeper analyses of the principal tasks the world faces – and some of the successes that have been achieved – in tackling contemporary dietary challenges, as well as the presentation of strategies to overhaul the way food is produced, processed and distributed. 
More than two billion people on the planet today suffer from micronutrient deficiencies that affect their health, and an estimated 150 million children below five years of age suffer stunting and other related growth problems due to inadequate diets. At the same time, 1.9 billion people are overweight, including 600 million classified as obese. 
Queen Letizia, an active nutrition campaigner, participated in the session reviewing the outcomes of the symposium’s working groups, which emphasized the importance of coordinating efforts in the fight against all forms of malnutrition and the promotion of sustainable diets, deemed essential in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. 
“Her work and personal commitment as FAO’s Special Ambassador for Nutrition is a priceless contribution in the fight against malnutrition around the world,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, who also participated in the session along with Spain’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, Isabel García Tejerina.
The symposium was held to “push for the implementation of commitments made during the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) and to support member states,” Graziano da Silva said. “FAO is determined to dedicate all of its effort to the achievement of the commitments of the 2030 Agenda, but we are aware that we will need all the help and involvement of the international community,” he added. 
Queen Letizia’s presence and participation “reinforces this commitment and underscores her continuous contribution in the activities, goals and ideals of this Organization and all of its Members,” Graziano da Silva said. 

Healthy diets for people, sustainable diets for the planet

Queen Letizia also attended the special event, structured as a TedTalk, on the role chefs can play in the campaign. 
Jenny Chandler, a popular food writer, cooking teacher and a FAO Special Ambassador for the International Year of Pulses, gave an spirited talk on how people can contribute to both healthy and sustainable diets in their everyday lives. 
“Imagine if we all posted pictures or recipes when we cooked good, sustainable food, it doesn’t have to be vegan, or vegetarian, just natural home-cooked food where meat or fish aren’t always necessarily the stars of the show,” Chandler told a packed auditorium at FAO’s headquarters. “That’s the concept we need to spread, it’s all about balance, it’s not a question of giving up anything, there should be no feeling of deprivation just sometimes eating in a different way that happens to be healthier for both us and the planet.
Chandler emphatically championed the role of traditional meals. “Much of our culinary heritage, from all over the world includes beautifully balanced dishes that aren’t over indulgent in any case and we must hang on to them,” she said. “Now’s the time to revisit pulses and other parts of our food heritage and realise that they are simply better for us, and usually also taste better than the highly processed foodstuffs that have taken their place,” she added. 
We have a duty to our children to inspire them with a passion for, not just eating good food but understanding where it comes from and preparing it too,” Chandler said. 
Queen Letizia also visited “What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets”, a photographic exhibition showing elements of various diets around the globe and the variety of foods they rely on. 

Photo: ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto
Queen Letizia of Spain and FAO Director-General, attend the outcomes of the symposium’s working groups.