Pathways and policies

The third and final Network of European Food Stakeholders workshop took place in Brussels 11-12 June 2014. Almost 80 members of the network met at Thon Hotel to:

  • discuss implementation pathways and policy options for the adoption of healthy, sustainable diets;
  • share their experience around the implementation of key policies and initiatives; and
  • prioritise the implementation pathways and policy options identified.

As a result of this work, LiveWell for LIFE calls on the entire food chain to support the following eight policy recommendation:

1: Implement no-regret policies

We believe the following three policy options will have high impact, be politically acceptable and cost-effective. Rolling them out should be a priority.

a) Revise national dietary guidelines to reflect sustainability and greenhouse gas mitigation objectives: we’ve shown that there are large overlaps between healthy and sustainable diets. But there can also be clear trade-offs, and eating healthy food does not always benefit the climate. National governments should develop policies to give more balanced, integrated dietary recommendations on healthy and sustainable diets.
b) Strengthen Green Public Procurement: we want to make Green Public Procurement in food and catering mandatory. The European public sector is a powerful force in the food chain, creating new markets and fostering an economy of quality. A thorough revision of the EU’s Green Public Procurement guidelines should be a priority, with the ultimate aim to set more binding minimum environmental standards for public food procurement.
c) Support food education: we want to find ways to reconnect people with the origins of their food so they can make wiser choices. Governments must make sure activities such as food growing, farm visits and cooking classes are available in all schools and not dependent on local initiatives or tuition fees. School food policies at national and EU levels should give children healthy and sustainable lunches. We need more education to encourage healthy eating habits, food diversity and environmental sustainability.

2: Upgrade agricultural and nutrition policies to one sustainable food policy

We think environmental, economic and social values should have more influence on food production and consumption. Governments should consult with a wide range of food stakeholders to develop a shared long-term vision of what constitutes a sustainable food system. Ideas include better integration of food-related policies (in particular between agriculture, the environment and health) and working out what EU institutions, national and local governments do best and how they can work better together.

3: Strengthen preventive action on diet-related non-communicable diseases

We’ve found that healthy and sustainable diets can be mutually reinforcing, so maintaining and strengthening the existing preventive action on obesity and overweight would be good for both public health and the environment.

4: Make better use of economic governance

We want a greater emphasis on economic policies, as well as information. The user and polluter pays principles must be better enforced in food policy. The environmental and health cost of food production and consumption should be reflected in macro-economic governance.

5: Competition policy should not eclipse sustainability objectives:

We want the EC and member states to find agreement on how the EU’s competition policy can provide a fair market environment. We also want them to set predictable frameworks for minimum standards and stimulate front-runners on health and environment.

6: Seek local-global synergies

We realise that achieving sustainable food consumption which also improves nutrition and combats climate change is a global challenge, but we want to think about how successful initiatives can be replicated outside Europe. EU member states also need to make good use of energy at local levels and ensure it is directed towards international objectives on development, health and nutrition and environmental sustainability.

7: Ensure a supportive, cohesive policy environment

We want governments to put policy measures in place to support informed action for and monitoring of progress by all stakeholders. The EC should use its existing stakeholder platforms to swap best practices between member states and other stakeholders. Existing indicators could give better insights on whether diets are actually shifting in more healthy and sustainable directions.

8: Ensure food chain accountability

We want industry to be an important partner in encouraging more healthy and sustainable diets. Voluntary commitments should be underpinned by realistic targets. If these are not met, governments need to be ready to step in with regulation.

Download the report