Towards healthy and sustainable food systems in the Baltic States

The World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe and the Riga Stradins University in cooperation with the Nordic Council of Ministers, from 27 February to 1 March, organize a workshop "Towards healthy and sustainable food systems in the Baltic States" with with the aim of initiating dialogue with countries in the Baltic Sea region on the topic of sustainable diets.

Life expectancy is increasing all over the world, but the quality of life is reflected in the healthy years of life that characterize life expectancy, showing quality life years. Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases are the biggest health challenge facing all countries in the European Region. The high prevalence of NCDs has large financial implications (e.g. cost of care, productivity, absenteeism) and challenges economic development in many countries, as well as the quality of life of their citizens. Unhealthy diets are the leading health risk factor in many parts of the European Region, characterized by low consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, as well as excessive consumption of sugar, sodium, and saturated and trans fats.

At the same time, current dietary patterns also influence the health of our planet. Food production is responsible for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions and is a driver of biodiversity loss and freshwater depletion. Feeding the world sustainably and promoting good nutrition and health within a changing climate is one of the main global challenges of our time, as recognized in the Sustainable Development Goals.

Against this background, there have been calls for countries to move towards the promotion of sustainable diets that address both health and environmental objectives. This requires the development of sustainable dietary guidelines and implementation of a wide range of policies to help the population adhere to the recommendations.

The workshop will bring together a diverse group of stakeholders from the health and non-health sectors in order to understand the priorities and needs of the Baltic countries. As part of the workshop, the group will jointly conduct a food systems mapping exercise to understand how ongoing activities align and can be brought together to strengthen the food policy response to health and environment challenges.