A Chefs’ Manifesto: How the food industry can deliver a better future for food

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A Chefs’ Manifesto: How the food industry can deliver a better future for food

The SDG2 Advocacy Hub is a consortium of NGOs, advocacy groups, civil society, private sector and UN agencies that collaborate on campaigns that help achieve SDG2 - to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030.

The Chefs’ Manifesto is one such campaign, which engages chefs as advocates for a better food system for all; one that is less wasteful, more nutritious, and above all, respects the earth.

We interviewed Paul Newnham from the SDG2 Hub, who shared his views on the Chefs’ Manifesto and how consumers can get involved in supporting the Global Goals through simple, practical actions. Here’s what he said:

What is the Chefs’ Manifesto?

Over the last six months, the SDG2 Advocacy Hub has established a community of over 130 chefs from 38 countries who worked together to create a Chefs’ Manifesto. This is a document written by chefs, for chefs, synthesizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into eight thematic areas that chefs are most interested in tackling. The Manifesto is underpinned by an Action Plan which provides practical activities across each thematic area that chefs can take to contribute to the SDGs and inspire others to act.

In creating an online community and a Chefs’ Manifesto with simple, practical guidance on engaging in the SDGs, we saw an opportunity to amplify existing activity, promote innovation and solutions and empower chefs all over the world to help deliver a more sustainable food system.

Why did you choose chefs as an entry point into sustainable development issues?

Tackling food system challenges - such as undernutrition, food waste and soil degradation - is hugely complex. Success relies on everyone getting involved. Yet, the SDGs can seem far removed from our everyday lives and people often struggle to see how they can meaningfully engage.

We saw a need to find disruptive new voices - chefs - to help translate SDG2 into language that resonates with the public and inspires them to take action that will contribute to delivery of the goals.

Chefs influence what we grow, what we put on our plates and how we think and talk about food.  So, we felt chefs could be powerful advocates for a better food future – motivating people to make changes in their kitchens and communities and empowering them to call on governments and companies to also play their part.

While there are some excellent chef organizations in place, none explicitly help chefs align their activities with the SDGs, nor provide a global platform for collaboration and sharing best practice.

What sort of actions is the Chefs’ Manifesto advocating for the chefs themselves and the food industry in general?

For chefs, the Manifesto advocates for simple, practical actions that can be carried out in their kitchens, classrooms or communities, whether it’s re-purposing food waste, championing local ingredients or advocating for the protection of social health. It also asks chefs to share their own case studies and recipes that are in line with best practice and the core themes of the Manifesto.

For the food industry more broadly, we are looking to drive greater progress towards the SDGs. This includes partnering with organisations and others to deliver better options that are good for people and planet.  

What sort of actions does the Chefs’ Manifesto advocate for consumers?

Although written for chefs, many of the actions outlined in the Manifesto can be adopted and advocated by consumers. For example, under Area 2: Protection of Biodiversity and Improved Animal Welfare, using your purchasing power by choosing fish and seafood that is abundant and sourced sustainably - this is an activity that consumers can carry out at home and when eating in restaurants by asking where this fish was sourced.

A second example, under Area 5: Celebration of Local and Seasonal Food, advocating for public sector organisations and local authorities to buy local, seasonal food - consumers can speak to grocers, local councils and restaurants about sourcing food locally. They can also drive this forward by buying local produce themselves where possible.

We also are keen to have people see themselves as more than just consumers, but also as citizens of creating a new food future.

In general, what do you think is the key shift that needs to take place in order to achieve SDG2 by 2030?

We need to get more people involved in this campaign by breaking out of our silos and connecting with actors that are working for better agriculture, the food system, nutrition or the SDGs more generally who use different approaches. With a concerted yet multi-sectoral approach, we can engage a wider audience to take practical actions that result in large-scale change. There needs to be a global, fundamental shift in the understanding of what is “good food”. A shift to something that is healthy for humans, good for farmers and the planet. We have science that can guide these shifts and direct action but we need this tied to political will.  

The other key area is to see an end to conflict, as this is a key contributor to global food insecurity and vulnerability. To achieve SDG2, we also need to see conflict cease.

How can people get involved in the campaign?

• Chefs fill in a survey to join our community to be part of a better food future.
• Follow on Twitter using #ChefsManifesto
Contribute examples, case studies and recipes
Sign up to the Hub and use its calendar to keep track of chef events and activities