Nourishing people and planet alike

Gerda Verburg

A conversation with chefs about the role we should play in the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals

By Gerda Verburg, Coordinator, Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) Movement &
UN Assistant Secretary-General

As Coordinator of the SUN MovementI am a proud ambassador of the SDG2 Advocacy Hubwhich – like SUN – believes strongly in a multisectoral, multi-stakeholder approach to solving the world’s biggest challenges. 

At the heart of the SDG2 Advocacy Hub’s innovative approach is the Chefs’ Maniefsto, a chef-led initiative building on the fact that chefs are powerful advocates for a better food future and play an important role in inspiring people to make changes in their kitchens and communities.

I wholeheartedly agree. 

Chefs lead the way to healthy, sustainable food, that is also delicious. However, I think we should learn from them and ask each and everyone, to advocate for a better food future, just like people around the world are advocating for a better climate future. 

Over the last ten years, the SUN Movement has supported member countries to develop and take forward a more systematic approach to nutrition. 2020 is a vital year if we are to build on the progress already made at a pace which delivers on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is vital for relevant actors to come together with a common approach and to align agendas. Scientific evidence clearly demonstrates the links between human and planetary health, food systems, climate and nutrition, yet we still tend to treat these topics in isolation.

In 2020, each one of us needs to embrace the opportunity, and the responsibility, to call for change in the way we eat, grow, transport and sell food around the world. We need to stand up and be counted as knowledgeable consumers and engaged citizens, implementing the daily changes required to improve food production and consumption at the individual, family and community level, and to push for the systemic change required to address poor nutrition. 

Chefs are my heroes. They play a unique role, as they bridge the gap between farm and fork with great expertise, creativity and fun, deciding what ingredients go on their plates, how they are sourced, prepared and cooked, and what happens with the waste created in the process. They play a crucial role – but so do you and I. We all make decisions about what we buy, how much we spend, where we shop, what we eat and what we serve our friends and family. While constraints around choices exist in different ways around the world, we need to make the sustainable, tasty and healthy food decisions where possible. We can make the difference we want to see!

Therefore, it is important to break down silos between discussions and decisions on agriculture, health, nutrition and environmental sustainability. This seems complicated, but will bring us the innovative solutions that are needed.  

The opportunity for change is historically unprecedented. 

The way the world produces and consumes food is leading to an unprecedented overweight and obesity epidemic while failing to curb hunger and chronic malnutrition, as well as micronutrient deficiency. This leads to unacceptably high costs on individuals, families and nations. In short, food systems are failing the planet and people’s health globally.

During my travels, I see that SUN member countries are significantly impacted by climate change manifesting itself through droughts, floods and conflicts. The increasing number of SUN countries that are facing stunting, wasting, overweight and obesity simultaneously, is a clear sign that shifting towards food systems that are more respectful of both humans and the planet’s health is of utmost urgency. 

I believe strongly that SUN’s multi-sectoral approach to nutrition constitutes an important opportunity to foster collaboration across sectors and leverage existing synergies between climate-smart and nutrition-sensitive strategies. There is no escaping the fact that, in a changing climate, ensuring access to nutritious food for all requires a multi-sectoral approach and bold individual, daily action. 

With the right leadership and a collective voice, we can raise the sense of urgency and bring the agenda of governments, donors and partner organisations, civil society, and the private sector together, to find solutions for improved nutrition in the face of climate change, while mitigating food systems’ environmental footprint. 

The SUN Movement is entering its third phase in 2021. It will champion a more integrated approach, convincing those with decision-making power of the potential win-win for people and planet alike and highlighting the urgent need to agree and take concrete steps forward.  

I invite you to join me, and our passionate chefs, on this journey.  


Episode 1

Tune into my conversation with Chef Tom Hunt on the Chefs’ Manifesto Podcast, as we discuss sustainability and the role of chefs in driving progress on the Global Goals and in ensuring Good Food For All. Find out more about the SUN Movement and the Chefs' Manifesto and continue to make daily choices which nourish people and planet. 

Podcast Launch

Use the following Hashtags to promote the Chefs' Manifesto Podcast: 
#ChefsManifesto #GoodFood4All #SDG2 #FoodIsLife