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FARM TO FORK 2021 CONFERENCE: ‘Building sustainable food systems together’

Director for Food and Sustainability, international relations, Nathalie Chaze discusses this year’s Farm to Fork Conference and talks about what the Farm to Fork Strategy has accomplished so far and what achievements are expected in 2022.

date:  08/10/2021

What is the aim of this annual Conference?   

Our goal with the Farm to Fork Strategy is to shape the EU’s path towards a sustainable food system that is fair, healthy and environmentally friendly. To do so, we understand the importance of engaging actors of the food chain, from farm to fork, and of discussing with them the challenges and opportunities linked to the transition to sustainable food systems.   

The title of this year’s Conference really says it all: ‘Building sustainable food systems together’. Over two days, we have had the great opportunity of meeting with stakeholders from across the value chain, public authorities, international and civil society organisations, as well as other interested and concerned citizens and consumers. We have listened to them and to their commitment and readiness to contribute to the transition. In that context we have looked at concrete ways the transition will take place, including carbon farming, reducing use and risk of pesticides, sustainable business models as well as research and innovation. We also discussed how the Strategy could benefit not only Europeans but also the global community.   

We will continue working with all stakeholders to turn the Farm to Fork strategy into tangible results. 

    

What progress has been made on the initiatives foreseen in the Farm to Fork Strategy’s action plan? 

We have already made important progress since the adoption of the Farm to Fork Strategy 17 months ago.  

To give an example, we now have the EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices, which today is getting close to gathering 100 signatories. The Code is a clear milestone, with companies or associations in the food sector leading the way through their voluntary commitments towards increasing the availability and affordability of healthy, sustainable food and drink options to reduce the overall environmental footprint of the food system. We would like to encourage more operators to join and we look forward to the results of these actions to improve their sustainability performance. 

In addition, preparatory work is well underway on one of the Strategy’s flagship initiatives, the legislative framework for the EU sustainable food system, which will mark a paradigm shift in food law. We are also working intensively on the revision of the sustainable use of pesticides directive, the revision of the animal welfare legislation and important labelling initiatives.  

The Strategy put forward many actions to protect the health of our planet, protect the health of our people and encourage them to choose healthy and sustainable diets. We have already made a good start. 

   

How does Farm to Fork support the global transition to sustainable food systems?   

Last year, the European Union put forward the Farm to Fork Strategy to fundamentally change how we feed ourselves. But the shift to sustainable food systems needs to be a global movement because as is often said, there is only one planet. The 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, held in New Yok on 23 September, set the stage for the global transformation of food systems and the EU will fully support follow up actions to deliver progress on all 17 SDGs through tangible and positive changes to the world’s food systems. 

The EU is the biggest importer and exporter of agri-food products and the largest seafood market in the world and as such, has responsibilities that go beyond its borders. The EU is reinforcing its engagement and cooperation with third countries to establish or improve global sustainability standards, both bilaterally and in multilateral frameworks. Our efforts to tighten sustainability requirements in the EU food system will be accompanied by policies that help raise standards globally, in order to avoid promoting the externalisation and export of unsustainable practices. The actions we are taking include building green partnerships with third countries and promoting partnerships to support developing countries in their transition to sustainable food systems. 

   

What initiatives can we look forward to in 2022?   

A number of proposals will come to fruition by the end of 2022, particularly those focused on the Strategy’s plan to improve diets. Providing consumers with accurate and helpful food labelling will enable them to make healthier choices for themselves, their children and the planet. To this end, the Commission intends to set up nutrient profiles to restrict the promotion of foods high in fat, sugars and salt, which is often done through misleading nutrition or health claims.  

Labelling protects the consumer at the point of sale, but we are also working to protect the consumer – and the environment – at the other end of the food system, the soil. EU legislation on the sustainable use of pesticides will be revised in 2022 to reduce the overall use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% and the use of more hazardous pesticides by 50% by 2030. Those significant reductions will make it possible to achieve the target set by the Farm to Fork strategy.   

    

For more information on the Farm to Fork Conference and the Farm to Fork Strategy, please visit: Farm to Fork conference - Building sustainable food systems together