September 13, 2019

Keeping People at the Center of Food Systems and Environmental Health: Insights from the Planetary Health Annual Meeting

On September 4-6, 2019, the Planetary Health Annual Meeting was held at Stanford University and included researchers, policy makers, practitioners, health professionals and community leaders across multiple disciplines to share research and expertise on climate change, human health and food systems. The global lens of the event brought together attendees and speakers from more than 35 countries, with many echoing the value of storytelling to achieve policy changes.

Event partners included the Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health, the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, the Rockefeller Foundation, Wellcome Trust, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and The Lancet Planetary Health journal. A diverse range of topics were discussed, from non-communicable diseases and dietary patterns, to university funding structures and the need for regenerative systems.

Key themes*:

To affect impactful change, start locally, grow globally and establish clear channels for diffusion of innovation and learnings. 

There is a need for a broader focus on planetary health beyond just climate and public health.

There is a need for greater urgency in transforming the food system to help mitigate climate change, reduce obesity and non-communicable disease (NCD) risk, and improve sustainable food supplies. 

There is a need for a population-specific approach to a planetary-health diet to address NCDs and environmental degradation. 

Social norms and the “growth at any cost” mentality are underpinning the failure of world leaders to act on climate change. The private sector can play a large role, but policy is needed to drive deep, long-standing change.


* Please note: the key themes and takeaways noted were focus points of discussion and presentations; they do not necessarily reflect FoodMinds’ point of view.

Carla Curle, MS, is an account executive at FoodMinds, a division of Padilla. She’s based in San Francisco, CA.

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