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Good Food Finance is needed to bring healthy, sustainable food to everyone
Today is international Sustainable Gastronomy Day, as agreed by the United Nations General Assembly, in December 2016. The day is partly about honoring the need to share good practices for preparing and enjoying healthy, sustainably produced food. It is also, however, necessary to recognize that in order for this to become the universal norm, we need to surround consumers with better choices.
Today, the Good Food Finance Initiative (GFFI)—convened by EAT and FAIRR, in close collaboration with the World Bank—published the Summary report from its first High-Level Roundtable. The Summary includes insights from the Roundtable, explores a rethinking of return-on-investment, and begins to chart a course toward a multi-year Good Food Finance Action Agenda. It also includes the following Mission Statement:
The COVID-19 pandemic emergency has revealed deep and costly vulnerabilities in supply chains and economies across the world. Throughout 2020, food insecurity rapidly expanded, including in wealthy countries; worldwide, the incidence of acute hunger is estimated to have doubled.
One of the most costly areas of vulnerability is diet-related non-communicable diseases, which not only degrade human health and are a leading cause of premature death, but make whole populations far more susceptible to novel pathogens, like the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
Another costly food system impact is environmental degradation—including land, water, and the biosphere, all worsened by escalating climate disruption.
A third high-cost vulnerability is the fact that food systems fail to provide sustainable livelihoods to agricultural workers, meaning food-producing and rural areas suffer higher rates of extreme poverty, resulting in persistent involuntary migration and an additional threat to food security.
Structural incentives lock these vulnerabilities into our everyday lives and make it harder for decision-makers in the public and private sectors to surround people with healthy, sustainable choices.
To build a resilient future of inclusive sustainable prosperity, we need to shift unhealthy incentives, avoid destructive investments, and mobilize finance to open a healthy future to all people.
Taking account of these and other cascading and compounding risks;
Recognizing the One Health standard—that “health” must include human health, the wellbeing of animals and ecosystems, and also the health and resilience of livelihoods, economies and national budgets;
Understanding that good food finance requires careful, outcome-oriented alignment of structural incentives, market-level practices, and local production and consumption for healthy, sustainable outcomes;
Aspiring to an everyday economy in which all people are surrounded by healthy, sustainable, and affordable Nature-positive food choices;
We, the network of partners, advisors, supporters, and participants in the Good Food Finance Initiative, are committed to working together to identify, develop, deploy, and mainstream the optimal financial instruments, strategies, and enabling policies, to generate food systems that sustain the health of people, Nature, and whole economies.
Green recovery needs to honor the One Health standard
UN Secretary-General António Guterres recently said “We are coming to a point of no return”, in terms of worsening climate emergency. He shared his concern that COVID recovery efforts could put climate resilience and sustainable development out of reach, if they are not fully committed to a green economic future:
To spend these trillions of dollars and not use this occasion to reverse the trends and massively invest in the green economy will be an unforgivable lost opportunity.
Scientific findings regarding climate change and land, biodiversity loss, and our food systems make clear: We cannot end the climate crisis or achieve the Sustainable Development Goals—on which the wellbeing of people everywhere depends—if we do not find a way to transition to healthy, sustainable food systems.
Our food systems generate 34% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. That’s more than 1/3 of the emissions driving global heating. With the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero (GFANZ) committing $70 trillion in assets under management to science-based net-zero pathways, including substantial early action to reduce emissions, the proverbial “pie” for business as usual is shrinking.
The race is on to capture major new flows of finance aligned with climate neutrality and building resilience. Nigel Topping, High-Level Climate Champion for the COP26, said during the GFFI Roundtable:
Action and solidarity will be key for success in Glasgow. We are facing the big question: Are we going to build a regenerative global economy?
Poor diets greatly increase COVID vulnerability. Whole societies are more at risk, when systemic threats are anchored by pervasive norms. In the United States, for example, it has been found that only 12% of adults are metabolically healthy. The Good Food Finance Roundtable recognized the One Health principle—that human health is connected to the health of animals and ecosystems.
As we think about sustainable gastronomy, we also have to think about how we envision, invest in, build and sustain food systems that are healthy for people and for Nature. The Roundtable also recognized that the fiscal health of nations is connected to One Health and to the resilience of food systems.
To achieve “GoodFood4All”, we need to invest deliberately and directly in the new production practices, new business models, diversified distributed systems, and more science-informed information flows that will allow healthy, sustainably produced food to become the mainstream, affordable norm.
To help achieve this, Rachel Kyte—Dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts Univeristy, who moderated the discussion—called for development of a Good Food Finance Toolbox of instruments, strategies, and policies, to be developed this year. The Good Food Finance Initiative will work for the rest of 2021 to bring a coalition of allies into a multi-year Action Agenda, to put those tools to work.
Go deeper into the macrocritical resilience value of this work at ResilienceIntel.org