It is actually quite impossible to find someone who is against the launch of a Swedish food policy. However, stakeholders have diverse ideas of what the content of such a food policy should be. So it was not surprising that the room was packed at the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation on 5 March, as the year long process to deliver a food policy was launched. Signals coming from the minister and officials were meagre, but open-minded.
Historically, there has been an emphasis on – and a strong lobby for – production in Sweden. But today Swedish agriculture is economically in pain; there are obvious difficulties in maintaining production when competing with markets where production is cheaper and less regulated. The minister for rural affairs who is responsible for the food policy, Sven-Erik Bucht, states that the food policy must help promote values embedded in Swedish products. And, we should be proud of a production system with good animal welfare and among the lowest antibiotics use in agriculture in the world. Then again, this ‘very good production system’ is in dire need of… something.
A food policy might help here.
The food policy work coming up will be inclusive: welcoming contributions from regions, organisations, academia and the corporate world. This means there‘ll be many battles in the coming year – and WWF will be involved. And, we’ll come to the table with the LiveWell final report as a strong resource. The final recommendations we foresee will go down well are connected with public procurement and education. Indeed, a national report on sustainable consumption – developed in connection with the UN 10YFP programme – has already suggested the need to strengthen economic incentives for sustainable consumption, but the issue of taxation is complicated and will cause controversy.
A clear ask from WWF will be to ensure the food policy work is cross-cutting and inclusive, with representation from across many political spheres and competences. And over all, we need to start the process with a vision of food security for all which focuses on lowering the ecological footprint of food consumed and produced in Sweden.
Project Manager Sustainable Food for All – WWF-Sweden