Sustainable diets for healthy people and a healthy planet
This discussion paper (PDF) by the United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN) connects the dots between sustainable food systems, dietary patterns, health, nutrition and climate change mitigation. Developing a global food system to deliver healthy diets for a growing population, while reducing the environmental impact and reining in climate change, is one of the greatest global challenges of our time. Healthy and sustainable diets can bring co-benefits to the environment and to people’s wellbeing and nutritional status. The authors recommend that dietary and nutritional considerations should be integrated into the climate change agenda. A general transition to more plant-based diets could lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions and likely reductions in diet-related non-communicable diseases. Additionally, adopting food-based dietary guidelines that include sustainability criteria is crucial to change dietary patterns towards more sustainable, healthier diets. The authors emphasize the importance of concerted and coherent policy making to develop sustainable food systems and diets, while safeguarding the planet. Coherent public policies are required, from production to consumption across sectors. As well, coherent action and innovative food-system solutions are required to ensure access to sustainable, balanced and healthy diets for all. The Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition provide crucial frameworks for joint action to nourish the world sustainably.