The Nordic Food Policy Lab was launched by the 5 prime ministers of the Nordic countries in 2017 to curate and share examples of Nordic food policy for health and sustainability. They do this through global partnerships and dialogues. Their goal is meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals through food policy. They also help other countries in achieving the goals.

In this episode, Marie Persson provides an overview of what is happening within food policy across the Nordics. We also take a look at the COP25 UN climate negotiations from a Nordic angle and what a sustainable, healthy diet looks like.

  • 7:30 Overview of the Nordics strengths and weaknesses when it comes to food & food policy
  • 9:40 Why food is such a tricky political conversation
  • 16:30 Examples of individuals taking climate action through food
  • 20:20 What is needed for policy to encourage sustainable production and consumption
  • 25:35 Why more chefs and behavioral psychologists are needed in politics

This episode is part of Taste the Transition, a series of lunch conversations during the COP25 climate negotiations highlighting individuals taking climate action through food. 

Key Moments & Show Notes

2:40 What is the Nordic Food Policy Lab? Why was it started?

It’s about how food policy can deliver on the sustainable development goals. There are some questions in the food system that are not so easy for actors to discuss and agree on. That’s what we’re addressing with our food policy labs.

3:45 How does it work? What kind of projects are you working on?

4:50 What is going to happen at COP25?

The idea was to create a Nordic platform for citizens to hear what’s happening at this global meet up while adding a Nordic perspective to the conversation.

6:12 What is the Nordic agenda at COP25?

We’ve all agreed we want to be carbon neutral as well as the most sustainable region in the world.

7:30 What’s the state of the conversation? What obstacles have we overcome? What obstacles are standing in our way?

We’re leaders for most of the SDGs, but it’s tricky for us to deliver on sustainable production and consumption. Our consumption is very resource intensive. We consume as if we had four planets, not one. This is especially true for agriculture and it’s a very tricky political conversation.

9:40 Why is this so tricky politically?

It deals with freedom of choice. We live in one of the richest parts of the world and are used to consuming whatever we want without constraint. There is a gap between what we know and what we actually do. It’s a knowledge-action gap.

11:07 What are the key similarities and differences between the Nordic nations and their position on food policy?

We have a lot of common ground when it comes to nutrition and communicating to consumers. We agree on the basic evidence, which creates a foundation to spark food policy cooperation. We different on the agricultural production side. Each country has different geographies and different priorities.

12:35 What policies are being talked about now with it comes to meeting the 2030 goals?

It’s being tackled a bit differently in each country, but overall there is a lot of work on food waste. It’s a low hanging fruit. I think we’re headed towards more conversations on what a healthy, sustainable diet is and plant-forward diets are emerging as key.

14:50 Why is it important for us to consider how we can take climate action through food?

In its essence food is very positive. It makes us human. Also, food systems are contributing 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

16:30 What are you hoping that we will communicate to listeners from this conversation?

That it is possible to use food to change and deliver on the climate targets! It’s too often forgotten because it’s a tricky issue with lots of dos and don’ts. We need to lift the voices of people driving change.

18:00 What voices and stories will we be highlighting over the next couple of episodes?

20:20 What is your wish list when it comes to asking for change from policymakers?

It’s important that consumers feel that a sustainable diet enables them to live a better life. We have to do more research into trade off areas.

24:30 What is your vision for the food system in 10-15 years?

We have a focus on deliciousness and the most sustainable products are also the most desirable.

25:35 What are we missing to get there?

We need to involve more people around the table who haven’t necessarily always been heard and encourage cross-sector dialogues that loop in chefs, entrepreneurs, psychology, nudging, and consumer behavior.

28:40 How do we include their voices?

We need to make sure that they’re included much earlier in designing campaigns and policies to make sure new skills and capacities influence policy makers and bureaucrats.

29:46 What platforms do you know exist for coming together and having these dialogues?

We are trying to provide that kind of platform by being a neutral broker, but we need it a lot more also at the different national levels.

31:45 How can someone join the conversation?

We need to keep asking these important questions like what is it that we desire from our future food system? How do we give that vision political force?

33:10 What kind of collaborations are you looking for?

To get in touch with people monitoring change in consumption patterns and understand how to create a shift that people want to a part of.

34:55 What is a question or something you want to talk about that I haven’t asked you?

37:30 Where can people go after the summit to hear what’s going on and where this goes?

Carbon Brief. We will also do some write ups. You can also see what’s happening with the hashtag #NordicClimateAction