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The second EAT – Stockholm Food Forum has taken place

The vision of EAT is according to themselves “a transformation of the global food system to sustainably feed a healthy population of nine billion people by mid-Century.” Not a small task!

EAT  is a very good and interesting initiative with huge ambition and very good intentions, but it also has its weaknesses and room for improvements. Therefore it is very positive that the key people in EAT are very open for inputs and proposals. Probably EAT need to take some difficult decisions in the years to come.

EAT is an initiative from a dedicated Norwegian woman, Gunhild Stordalen, supported by a Norwegian foundation, in cooperation with the Stockholm Resilience Centre. She gave a very strong, impressive and emotional opening speech for the forum in Stockholm. I strongly recommend you to listen to it at http://www.eatforum.org/article/2015-is-a-window-of-global-opportunity/

EAT has a lot of connections to influential people, and they get high-level scientists and politicians to speak at the forum. Last year Bill Clinton was the key note speaker. This year both the prime minister of Norway and Sweden were among the speakers, and also some of the best scientists in the world on issues linked to food, nutrition, health and environment were speakers at the EAT-forum. There were also some representatives from social movements among the panelists. La Via Campesina had been invited, but unfortunately could not take part. However, Million Belay, the chair of African Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA) and Margaret Nakato, executive director of Worlds Forum of Fish Harvesters & Fish Workers (WFF) were among the panelists. Hopefully there will be more representatives from small scale food producers and social movements among the speakers and participants next year.

There were many excellent speakers and panelists at the EAT Stockholm Food Forum, especially when it comes to healthy and unhealthy diets and  climate change. I hope these presentations will be available soon at the EAT webpage. I encourage everybody who reads this to look at the presentations.

A very positive side with EAT is that they try to get different views and people from different fields and practices to come together and present their viewpoint. However, for those of us who were not in the special groups with some of the participants that  met during  part of the plenary sessions, there were very few opportunities to voice your view. The organizers should look into how they can involve more all the participants.

The main weakness of the EAT Stockholm Food Forum was, in my opinion, that some of the most important voices were missing in many panels and among speakers. I hope that next year  there will be many more small scale food producers and representatives of their organizations, especially from the movement supporting and promoting food sovereignty and agroecology, and also more scientists supporting and promoting this. EAT need to go deeper into what kinds of food production are producing healthy and nutritious food in sustainable ways – and which are not. To fulfill the role EAT has taken on it need to raise this issue more strongly in the future.

The second challenge I see for EAT is to go deeper into the role of and mixed interests of private sector, especially the multinational companies engaged in food and agriculture. The extreme financial and political power these companies have was mentioned a few times in speeches and debates during the forum. The negative influence on nutrition that many of them have was mentioned several times, and some CEOs of such companies were also challenged in some debates. However, I see a need to go much deeper into what is needed to transform the way most of these companies are contributing negatively today when it comes to production, promotion and consumption of healthy food which is produced in sustainable ways.
 
I hope to see many of you at EAT Stockholm Food Forum 2016 – as speakers, panelists and participants!

Aksel Naerstad
International co-coordinator of the More and Better Network

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