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Building the private sector’s contribution to transform food systems

Mobilizing the support of businesses for the 2020 Global Nutrition Summit

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva delivering his remarks in a video message

25 June 2019, The Hague - In June 2019, the government of The Netherlands and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) held a two-day meeting at The Hague to discuss how businesses can support transformation in food systems to enable healthy diets and how to mobilize business support and commitment to make the Japan 2020 Global Nutrition Summit a truly transformative event.

Our food systems are not delivering the healthy diets people need and this has a detrimental impact on nutrition and health.

There is also less diversity in our diets - although about 6,000 plant species can be used for food, less than 200 varieties are widely eaten, and only nine make up most of the world’s total crop production. At the same time, our eating patterns are shifting rapidly with people are eating more highly processed foods high in sugar, salt and fat than the more nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains.

The impact of our failing food systems are seen in the prevailing nutrition situation where over 800 million people suffer from hunger and about two billion people have some form of micronutrient deficiency and over two billion people are overweight or obese.

Diet related non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases and some cancers are among the leading causes of death for adults.

“We know that providing healthy, affordable and sustainable diets for all will require a radical transformation of existing food systems, especially while preserving natural resources and mitigating climatic impacts,” FAO Director-General said in a video message to the event.  “This calls for major efforts. Only a strategic alliance between governments, private sector, and the civil society can enable this transformation,” he added.

The public sector needs to create an enabling environment that allows for a radical improvement in the way food systems currently work. But this will not be enough: businesses across all sectors also need to contribute to such a transformation in order to achieve Zero Hunger and the other Sustainable Development Goals.

FAO believes that the private sector has an essential role to play in the  transformation of food systmes. After all, businesses shape the market and have influence on what consumers eat.

Achieving the nutrition targets we have set for ourselves will largely depend on the extent to which businesses deliver nutrition and products, and on advocating for closer public-private partnerships to develop more efficient food value chains with nutrition goals.

“The 2020 Global Nutrition Summit in Japan is our opportunity to make bold commitments for nutrition,” Graziano da Silva said.  

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