Conclusions: Dialogues on Nutrition and Sustainable Food Systems


On 20 and 21 April 2017, the Polytechnic University of València became a meeting point for debate that brought together more than 50 speakers and 250 participants from different sectors and regions around the Dialogues on Nutrition and Sustainable Food Systems which were structured around five major topics that took the form of conferences, round tables and workshops.

This document summarizes the proposals made during the Dialogues that provide a current picture of the state of knowledge on this matter including different actors involved in the implementation of the right to food and responsible for nutrition in urban systems. It therefore constitutes a contribution to the III Annual Gathering and Mayors’ Summit of the Milan Pact in October 2017 and to all the activities that will be carried out within the framework of the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition.


Focus and themes

The thematic axes that shaped the “Dialogues on Nutrition and Sustainable Food Systems” were the following:
– Food, cities and territory
– Governance of food systems
– Nutrition and food policies
– Dynamic agricultural systems towards sustainable food
– The Milan Pact and the Sustainable Development Objectives


Final Proposals
In the following part you find the different proposals which emerged from each thematic axis, regardless of the session in which they took place, in order to offer a global vision of how to move towards sustainable food systems considering their social, economic, environmental and cultural dimensions.


A) On Food, cities and territory.

– Faced with the impossibility of the cities to be self-sufficient in the food sector, it is necessary that they redefine their relationship both with the periurban territory and with the rural territories as food producers.
– The food policies of cities must manage the complex matrix of identities that each link in the food chain incorporates.
– Territory and food cannot be recognized for their economic value only, but also for their patrimonial value (environmental, historical, social, cultural).
– Territory and food can be perceived as a subject of rights (environmental, health) versus the perception as a purely mercantile object.
– We must strengthen the identity link between people and food, focusing on food as an opportunity, an interrelated tool with public agendas in education, health, the fight against climate change or water management.
– Agro-food systems linked to the territory must be developed, so as to avoid the concept of “commodification” of food and the move to new models.


B) On the Governance of Food Systems

We suggest to develop food systems with the following principles and cross-cutting values:
– Participation and co-responsibility of political, social and economic actors in the construction of agreements and commitments.
– A multi-sectoral participation that allows the development of common visions.
– Equity that balances the existing misalignments between the different links in the food chain, where production is the most vulnerable link.
– Efficiency as an ecosystem that reduces the input of matter and the exit of waste.
– A common good that includes the territory and the values of past, present and future people who inhabit it.


C) On Nutrition and Food Policies

Multilateral organizations were asked about the visibility of malnutrition, to seek consensus on the diagnosis of the problem, and leadership on the transformation path, accompanied by monitoring and evaluation.
In this regard, the Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2025), adopted by the United Nations Assembly on 1 April 2016, provides an opportunity to combat all forms of malnutrition (acute, chronic, lack of micronutrients, overweight and obesity) from a perspective of action and forging alliances among all parties involved.
At the national or local level, to address the consumers’ lack of knowledge about how much and what to eat or buy for sustainable consumption; food policies should include education in cantines, colleges, universities, associations, and so forth. At the same time, education and health professionals must also be trained on these issues.


D) On Dynamic Agrarian Systems for Sustainable Food

– It is possible to reconnect producers and consumers with food, incorporating the intangible value to the monetary value.
– The food question is not only economic and political, but also civic, social: local communities must take responsibility in the search of healthy food.
– The income of the agricultural activity must be enough for the agricultural community to be able to exercise its activity, and in this way, facilitate the generational change.
– Higher quality and competitive agricultural production must be achieved.
– Public and private investment in agriculture and the rural economy should be encouraged.


E) On the Milan Pact and the Sustainable Development Objectives (SDGs)

Many participants expressed support for the Milan Pact as s guide to building sustainable food systems. How to link the Milan Pact with the SDGs? How to use international pacts to generate real impacts? The proposals that emerged were as follows:

– Conceive international initiatives (Milan Pact) as a basis of work and an opportunity to strengthen the local work.
– Involvement of the private sector and civil society.
– Consider the SDG framework for food policies. The Milan Pact is clearly a bridge between the SDGs and local processes towards sustainable food.
– To promote “municipalism” as a political dimension
– To be realistic and critical in the analysis of the SDGs while recognizing that these objectives are a valid road map that allow countries to share a vision and have a common framework of priorities.


General conclusions
– The solutions can only come from the collaboration with the public and private sectors.
– The right to food must oblige all kinds of entities, as a common good that cannot be abandoned to the laws of the market, but requires an intelligent management without dogmatisms.
– There is scope to value the local and give dignity to those professions that are linked with nutrition and agro-food.

We have the opportunity to rethink our food system, not only to feed people, but also to create sustainable communities that tackle the social and climate challenges.