Investing in healthy and sustainably produced food for everyone: A call to action for the new government of the Netherlands

Herbert Smorenburg, Senior Manager at GAIN, explains why the new government of the Netherlands should invest in a transitions towards a sustainable food system that provides healthy and sustainably produced food for everyone.

Since the Dutch cast their ballot for a new parliament on the 15 March, political parties have been sat around the table negotiating a coalition that will provide the cabinet to govern the Netherlands for the next four years. The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs is one of GAIN’s main partners and is one of the founding partners of the Amsterdam Initiative against Malnutrition.

GAIN has been closely involved in the creation of a manifest that calls on the new cabinet to head the transition towards a sustainable food system that will provide healthy and sustainably produced food for everyone. The only way to achieve this is for government to work together with business, civil society organizations and knowledge institutions, in the so-called ‘Dutch Diamond’ approach that the Netherlands is proud of.

The food manifest is based on six principles: entrepreneurship; climate and environment; less hunger; health; less waste; and partnership. A successful food transition includes all these aspects, because the global food system lies at the heart of many current-day issues, such as climate change, increased migration, and conflict. These are global problems, and they require a response that looks beyond borders.

GAIN works actively to achieve the food transition together with governments, private sector actors, and other stakeholders, driven by its mission to end malnutrition in all its forms. It isn’t just that we need enough food for a rapidly increasing world population, but people should also be able to eat a healthy diet that gives them not just the calories but also the necessary nutrients. We do this by finding ways to create demand for nutritious foods, by focusing on making healthy diets available and affordable (in some developing countries 5 portions of fruit and veg a day costs a household 50% of its budget!), and supporting the creation of enabling environments for nutritious and safe food products. Good partnerships with the private sector are essential to this because businesses are the key players in our food systems. Therefore, we encourage the new cabinet to accelerate investments in a ‘nutrition friendly’ food systems transition.

We are pleased that the manifest has found broad support among the many actors that have a stake in the food transition and hope that the new cabinet, whatever the coalition might look like, will recognize the importance of taking on a leadership role to achieve healthy and sustainably produced food for everyone. Because a healthy population is essential to green growth, stability and a world in which people and communities can prosper in peace, reducing conflict and the mass movements of people displaced by it.

Read the English version of the food manifest here.

Click here for the Dutch version of the food manifest and a list of its signatories.

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Published 4 July 2017