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Creative Solutions for Sustainable Food & Nutrition Security: Insights from the 9th Annual Summit

Contributors: Sucheta Mitra, Roshni Kumar, Dr Sofia Cavalleri, Sarah Anderson, and Prof Sumantra Ray

The 9th Annual International Summit on Nutrition and Health, hosted by NNEdPro Global Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health and the International Academy of Nutrition Educators (IANE) in partnership with the BMJ NPH Nutrition Prevention and Health, took place virtually, focusing on ‘Sustainable Resourcing for All In Food & Nutrition Security: Creative Solutions for Healthy & Resilient Populations’. Last year marked the 15th anniversary of NNEdPro Global Institute and the 5th anniversary of BMJ NPH and IANE. Amidst global challenges like climate change, economic instability, and population growth, the summit brought together leading experts, policymakers, and innovators to explore sustainable strategies for ensuring food and nutrition security for all through a multistakeholder approach.

Emphasising Innovation and Resilience

The summit underscored the need for innovative approaches to resource management that promote health and resilience across diverse populations. By examining best practices, emerging technologies, and community-driven initiatives, participants aimed to identify and advocate for solutions that address immediate nutritional needs and contribute to long-term sustainability and equity in agri-food systems. The discussions highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and integrating scientific research with practical, on-the-ground efforts to build robust, resilient, and adaptable agri-food systems.

A Platform for Exchange and Collaboration

This summit served as a platform for exchanging ideas, sharing scalable practice models, and forging new multistakeholder partnerships. It highlighted the critical role of sustainable resourcing in achieving global health goals and ensuring every individual, regardless of socio-economic status, has access to nutritious, safe, and sufficient food. The proceedings reflect a collective commitment to advancing food and nutrition security through creative, evidence-based solutions that support healthy and resilient communities worldwide.

Summit Format and Structure

The summit, an annual scientific event, brought together professionals, educators, students, and researchers from around the globe to showcase leading research and build alliances to implement innovative solutions addressing complex nutrition and health challenges. The summit was held online and it consisted of seven live satellite events leading up to the main event on July 15th, 2023. The three core themes explored were:

1. Social Sustainability: Healthy and resilient populations, just and equitable food systems, food sovereignty.

2. Environmental Sustainability: Food and nutrition security.

3. Economic Sustainability: Circular just economic models and creative solutions for sustainable resourcing.

Regional Network satellite events: Some of the discussions which took place at various regional network satellite events are outlined below.

Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) Network

The ANZ network showcased the OzHarvest Nourish Programme during their regional network satellite event. Dr. Breanna Lepre, from the UQ Centre for Community Health and Wellbeing and NNEdPro Global Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health, presented this transformative programme, which offers a free, hospitality-focused pathway to employment for young Australians aged 16-25, who face barriers to education and training. The programme, spanning 18 weeks, has successfully created a safe and inclusive learning environment, improved food literacy and security, reduced social isolation, and instilled greater hope for the future among participants. The discussion highlighted the need for additional resourcing and increased investments to maximise the programme's impact and ensure its sustainability.

India and South Asia Network

The India and South Asia network focused on creating nutrition and economic sustainability through innovative food delivery solutions. Their presentation highlighted a project with the food delivery app Swiggy, aimed at overcoming challenges in reaching people across Kolkata with the Mobile Teaching Kitchen (MTK) mobile unit. As a strategy to scale up their micro-enterprise into a sustainable venture, they plan to register on the Swiggy platform. This digital growth strategy provides a creative and economically sustainable solution to expand their reach and impact, ensuring that more people have access to nutritious food.

Europe Regional Network

The Europe network's satellite event featured speakers Dr Berta Valente from the Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto (ISPUP) and Dr. Ingrid Fromm from Bern University of Applied Sciences, who addressed the complex relationship between climate change and agriculture. Their presentation highlighted the significant impacts of climate change on food availability, global food security, infrastructure, logistics, and food prices. They discussed pathways to resilience, including climate-smart agriculture, reducing emissions, increasing intersectoral action, and addressing socio-economic inequalities. An example of intersectoral action included collaborative efforts across different sectors to implement sustainable agricultural practices and policies that mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on food systems.

UK and Ireland Regional Network

The UK and Ireland network focused on the sustainability dimensions of the Mediterranean diet and its relationship with mental well-being. Dr. Fotini Tsofliou from Bournemouth University and Dr. Kathy Martyn from Brighton University presented their pilot digital survey, MeDWellS, which investigates adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet and its correlation with perceived mental well-being. The study aims to measure diet quality, self-reported mental well-being, perceived stress, and physical activity levels among higher education participants in the UK, with results to be showcased in November 2023. Additionally, Dr. Martyn discussed embedding nutrition in medical and nursing education through the NUTCAP project, which aims to improve nutritional care in hospitals by enhancing collaboration between nurses and dietitians, identifying gaps in nutrition knowledge, and implementing cost-effective solutions to improve patient care.

Canada Regional Network

The Canada Regional Network featured Dr. Leah Gramlich, Professor of Medicine at the University of Alberta, who presented on ‘Creating Alliances Nationally for Policy to Address Disease-Related Malnutrition (CAN Dream)’. This initiative, part of the CNS-CMTF, aligns with the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition by promoting policy advancements to tackle Disease-Related Malnutrition (DRM). Dr. Gramlich emphasised the importance of policy-based approaches to prevent, detect, and treat DRM, which affects both adults and children across various care settings. The CAN Dream commitment by the Canadian Nutrition Society (CNS) and the Canadian Malnutrition Task Force (CMTF) aims to establish evidence-based practices and advocate for policies to mitigate the negative impacts of DRM. Future steps include creating mechanisms for international registration of CAN Dream, completing a systematic review, and establishing a global Expert Advisory Group.

United States Network

The United States Network focused on the ‘MTK – US Micro Pilot: Cultivating Resilient Urban Communities through Plant-Powered Food Solutions’. Speakers Rebecca Johnson, Culinary Lead at Plant Powered Metro NY, and Jen Shamro, Coordinator at NNEdPro Global Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health, discussed the MTK pilot project and community workshops. These workshops explore perceptions of plant-based foods, such as the texture of a spinach cutlet versus chicken, and the role of spices in enhancing natural flavours. The project also includes sharing personal health stories from community champions, who are experienced home cooks. The initiative aims to recreate healthier versions of familiar dishes, build cultural understanding of ingredient preparation, and foster excitement among participants. The rewarding feedback loop created by the community’s enthusiasm highlights the project's positive impact.

Summit Day Highlights:

Social Sustainability: Building Equitable Food Systems

The summit highlighted efforts to build just and equitable food systems aimed at reducing disparities in food access and enhancing community health and resilience. Discussions centered on innovative approaches to resource management and community engagement, integrating scientific research with practical efforts. Key projects like the PAHADIYA SAMRIDHI initiative in Jharkhand underscored the importance of intersectional interventions to address complex issues of nutrition and food insecurity. Additionally, gastrodiplomacy was showcased as a means to promote cultural understanding, support local economies, and preserve culinary heritage.

Environmental Sustainability: Ensuring Long-term Food Security

Environmental sustainability discussions at the summit emphasised the creation of resilient food systems that preserve natural resources and mitigate environmental impact. Strategies highlighted included reducing waste, minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, and promoting biodiversity while supporting healthy diets and equitable food distribution. Initiatives like the ‘ZERO TO HERO’ programme, which empowers communities to adopt sustainable food practices, were also discussed as pivotal in achieving sustainable food security.

Economic Sustainability: Innovative Resourcing and Solutions

The summit addressed the economic aspects of sustaining nutrition services amidst financial challenges. It emphasised the need for innovative financing solutions and efficient resource management strategies to improve health outcomes, reduce healthcare costs, and ensure universal access to nutrition services. Discussions also focused on enhancing nutrition education for healthcare professionals and leveraging public-private partnerships and social impact bonds to support sustainable nutrition initiatives. NNEdPro’s Global Strategy on Sustainable Resourcing highlighted efforts to empower local champions and tailor interventions to address disparities in nutrition and health effectively.

Conclusion: A Collective Commitment to Sustainable Solutions

The 9th Annual International Summit on Nutrition and Health highlighted the critical need for sustainable resourcing in food and nutrition security. Through interdisciplinary

collaboration and creative approaches, the summit underscored the potential to transform food systems, promoting health and resilience globally. The proceedings from this event will be published in the BMJ NPH (Nutrition, Prevention and Health) and will reflect a collective commitment to advancing sustainable, equitable, and resilient food systems that support healthy communities worldwide.

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