Conflict, climate change, malnutrion, land issues, unhealthy eating habits… the challenges facing our food system globally is longer than you can count. At the EAT Asia-Pacific Food Forum in Jakarta, stakeholders from all sectors got together to discuss how the world can face these issues in order to provide a healthier food system for future generations.
Asia is a prosperous region characterized by vast natural resources, economic growth and a young population. Over the last decades, many Asians have been lifted out of poverty and joined their respective middle class. Nevertheless, many of the countries on the continent is struggling with nutritional problems. For example, the 2013 Basic Health Resarch (Riskesdas) revealed that around 37 percent of Indonesian children under 5, around 9 million people, still have problems with stunting. In Malaysia, about half of the population above 18 years old are overweight or obese. These examples illustrate that natural resource richness and poverty reduction does not necessarily eliminate nutritional problems.
At the EAT Asia-Pacific Food Forum, stakeholders discussed how they can contribute to sustainable solutions in the global food system. This discussion is highly relevant in regards to the Sustainable Development Goals, which are to be reached by 2030. The discussions at the Asia-Pacific Food Forum took place in plenary sessions and several smaller competence forums. The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta contributed to two competence forums on aquaculture and land issues, respectively. Together, these conversations underlined the complexity of enhancing the sustainability in the global food system and promoting healthy diets. It is evident that solutions require a holistic approach with cooperation between various stakeholders, different levels of government and between sovereign states on an international level. Additionally, delegates underlined that conflict has a negative impact on the global food supply, while climate change is threatening current yields. On a micro-level, educating the public on healthy diets and resilient food systems is important. These individuals can exercise pressure on the private sector through their consumer power, and convince politicians to impose appropriate policies.
The Asia-Pacific Food Forum was closed by the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Indonesia, HE Ms Retno L. P. Marsudi. She highlighted the role of developing the agricultural sector as a part of the many examples of solid South-to-South Cooperation in her speech. At the closing plenary, delegates seemed happy with the result from the many discussions in the plenaries, competence forums and in the hallways of the Shangri-La Hotel in Jakarta.
Stay tuned for the next Asia-Pacific Food Forum taking place somewhere in Asia in 2019!